Heart-wrenching WW1 letter unites families from across the globe

WARTIME ROMANCE Husband and wife Stephen Charles Sienesi and Gertrude Sienesi.
WARTIME ROMANCE Husband and wife Stephen Charles Sienesi and Gertrude Sienesi.

A heart-wrenching letter written during the First World War has united two families from across the globe.

The 99-year-old letter was written by Seaman Sid Preston and addressed to Gertrude Sienesi – the wife of his shipmate Stephen Charles Sienesi, who died during the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

The emotional letter explains how the dying man’s last words were to his colleague, asking him to write to his wife in Leeds and tell her what had happened.

The couple had only been married seven months before his death.

It reads: “Your loving husband passed away at 4am on June 1, 1916, through wounds received whilst in battle.”

It continues: “He died the death of a hero while fighting for his king, home and country and he is greatly missed by all who knew him.”

Gertrude moved to East Ardsley after the death of her second husband – they had returned to Leeds after their London shop was bombed out during WWII.

She died in 1980 after living in East Ardsley, and the letter was re-discovered some years later by Neil Reid torn up at the bottom of an old record box. He taped it back together and kept it.

His brother-in-law Peter Broadley, 72, who is originally from Leeds but now lives in Australia, recently posted the letter on dozens of websites in a bid to reunite the original family with the letter after staying in East Ardsley during a holiday.

After it was posted online it was spotted by a relative, and Mr Broadley flew over from Australia to visit Mrs Sienesi’s niece, Joyce Dickinson, in Leeds to hand over the letter.

Ms Dickinson, 90, said: “It was quite emotional. I’d never heard my aunt speak of this letter, and we don’t know how it became lost but it’s nice to have this piece of family history back.

“Next year is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland and we hope there will be a celebration to mark the event because it was one of the decisive battles of the First World War.”