Heather (21) and Betty (19) had been at home together, been at school together, and so had not been apart enough for them to have written letters to each other.. On the 27th May 1936, they had arrived back in England with their parents, after a trip round Central and South Africa. On the voyage back, Betty had met and fallen in love with G. In August, he asked her to marry him, and she accepted. Heather was away in the North of England, so Betty wrote to tell her big sister of the engagement.
This was possibly the first letter from Betty to Heather, and it has not survived; but it prompted a reply from Heather, which is the first on this WebSite.
To read any letter click on its Link - the title starts with the date in yyyymmdd format, year, month, day - if month and / or day is zero, that is because the date is missing. When you have finished a letter, just press Alt and the F4. key to return here:-
Betty and G. were married on the 24th of September, 1936, and sailed on the Dunnottar Castle to Capetown. Betty typed her letters home, with a copy to her parents and a copy to her parents-in-law - this she called a "portmanteau", and each copy often had an individual "suitcase" for that recipient. Letters took about a month in transit, and replies another month. Betty & G. cotinued their 1500 mile journey by train from Capetown to Livingstone (then the capital of Northern Rhodesia). They passed through Kimberley & Mafeking to Bulawayo, and on this leg Betty typed the first of her Potmanteaux, P 001, on 16 October 1936, This was probably posted at Bulawayo, where (with half a day's lay-over) they changed trains for the last leg North. The trains weren't very fast probably about 40 mph -so the journey took a couple of days and nights. Heather and Betty had done that trip earlier in the year with their parents; Heather now read that Portmanteau, and was prompted to reply :-
Betty continued her journey by train up to Livingstone, and from there by barge up the Zambesi to Sesheke.
The two sisters usually called each other "Duckie". The girls' parents' house was called Pax, or Pax Hill. It had been bought in the week after Armistice Day (11th November, 1918).
Soon after the wedding, Heather fell ill, but recovered.
The next letter, written a week later, was sent in two parts; Heather stopped to catch the post with what she had written, then continued. Part Two would have arrived perhaps a week after Part 1.
Three busy weeks went by, then Heather wrote again -.
19361214 Heather to Betty, from Pax - Social life (Dartmouth, Newcastle.) Mrs Simpson; preparing to go to India. 21 typed pages