England

John Jarmain war poem letters donated to Exeter University

  • 8 November 2013
  • From the section England
John Jarmain
John Jarmain was killed in action in 1944

Letters by a renowned World War Two poet are to be donated to the University of Exeter.

Original letters including poetry by John Jarmain were found by his daughter after the death of her mother.

Jarmain was killed in 1944 having written poems including El Alamein and Sand while serving in north Africa.

Prof Tim Kendall, of Exeter University, said Jermain was inspired by the "some of most hostile and forbidding landscapes ever endured".

Jarmain was an artillery captain who served in the 51st Highland Division and lived in Somerset and Dorset.

He was killed in Normandy in June 1944, several weeks after D-Day, having met his daughter only once.

His poems were published to critical acclaim after the war but the 150 original manuscripts were kept locked away in a bureau by his widow Beryl.

They were only discovered by their daughter, Janet Coward, at the family home in Blandford after her death.

The poems had been sent home along with accounts of desert warfare in north Africa and enquiries about family news.

John Jarmain's letters
The letters had been locked away in a bureau

Mrs Coward said: "It gave me an insight into my father which I'd never thought of - it brought the war alive and all he went through."

Once in the university archive, the letters will be available to be studied by students and members of the public.

Prof Kendall said: "Jarmain becomes a connoisseur of sand as he studies its shapes and shifting colours under different climatic conditions. He was a landscape poet by training and by instinct."

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