Burnley man's first book tells parents' real-life love story using World War Two letters

Jeff Pollard's The Last Letter to Dean Streetis based on the war service of his dad Joe in Burma. It weaves together500 letters sent by Joeto his wife Betty.
Jeff Pollard's The Last Letter to Dean Streetis based on the war service of his dad Joe in Burma. It weaves together500 letters sent by Joeto his wife Betty.

A Burnley man has written his first book which tells his parents' real-life love story during World War Two.

Jeff Pollard's The Last Letter to Dean Street is based on the war service of his dad Joe in Burma. It weaves together 500 letters sent by Joe to his wife Betty.

This moving but uplifting tale set in both Burma and Burnley in 1939 honours the contribution of Jeff's parents to the war effort.

He said: "My mum saved all his letters and when she passed away she gave them to me. I don't know what made me write the book but it was an honour to be in a position to do it.

"It's not just about my parents but a generation of people who gave up so much to protect their community and so should be remembered. It gives insight into the lives of ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

"I don't want to make my father out to be a hero as that's the last thing he would have wanted. But the story shows there are many different types of heroes. There were women making planes or people living off little food while working all kinds of hours back home. My mum, for example, had a job, kids, and two sets of parents to care for. She had to walk everywhere because we couldn't afford the tram. Heroes weren't necessarily just the ones fighting on the front lines."

Characters include not only his mum and dad but their parents and siblings.

"Dad was a quiet man who wouldn't say boo to a goose," Jeff added.

"But if it had been my mum who went over to Burma then the war would have ended quicker! She was small in stature but very strong!"

Jeff incorporates events in both Burma and Britain into the letters, which were censored because soldiers were not allowed to give out details of the war.

"It was interesting for me as I had to read a lot about the war, like the rationing and the blackouts," he said.

"The country was in a bit of a state to say the least.

"Sometimes war stories can be heavy but this one has a bit of everything in it and it mentions Burnley and the music, bands and films of the time. It's a tale about real life. And their old Burnley house in Dean Street is still there now, behind the Mitre pub and Holy Trinity Church where they were married.

"It an ordinary story of two people who were caught up in something they had nothing to do with but felt they had to contribute. They'd just met and everything was perfect when their lives were blown out of the water. When my dad went to Burma, he couldn't fly home to visit. Soldiers were there forever.

"Nowadays people have have access to news all the time and can contact friends and family on their mobile phones. But back then letters were crucial. They had no TVs and had to go to picture houses to get their news. But every letter my mum received would have been three weeks out of date.

"Life was simpler back then. They didn't know as much about the events going on around them but if people were born in Burnley, they stayed here in those days. Families stayed for generations."

Jeff's tale was published last November on Armistice Day.

He added: "I'm proud I've done it. I'm no John Grisham but I tried my best. I just hope my parents are proud of me too. It was important to me to do it because my children need to know what my mum and dad went through.

"I always thought I'd like to write a book one day but I never thought I'd do this. It wasn't something that came naturally to me but I'm proud I was able to record what ordinary people did. I just hope it shows how much our ancestors did for us."

The Last Letter to Dean Street is available to buy on Amazon as either a E-book or a hard copy.