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Nov 12, 2013 07:43 AM EST

WWII Soldier-Poet, John Jarmain's Pieces Will Now Be Available at University of Exeter


Academicians and literature enthusiasts can now find some famous poems penned by John Jarmain, a prominent World War II soldier-poet at the University of Exeter. Janet Coward, Jarmain's daughter, has decided to donate 150 original manuscripts to the university.

The letters which will be archived in the University's Heritage Collection will be accessible to students and the public for study.

Jarmain was an artillery captain who served in the 51st Highland Division. While serving in North Africa, he wrote some of his most famous poems including 'El Alamein' and 'Sand.' The poems were sent home along with warfront accounts and some enquiries about home. He was killed in Normandy in June 1944.

Jarmain's war poems received critical acclaim. They were published a year after his death.

The original manuscripts that were locked up in a bureau by his widow Beryl were discovered decades later by his daughter at their family home in Blandford after her mother's death.

Prof Tim Kendall, Director of the University of Exeter's Centre for Literature and Archives, said Jermain was inspired by the 'some of most hostile and forbidding landscapes ever endured.

"The poets of the Second World War are less well-known than their First World War predecessors, but at their best, they were just as powerful, Kendall said in a statement. "In John Jarmain's work, the mud of the Somme is replaced by desert landscape. Jarmain becomes a connoisseur of sand as he studies its shapes and shifting colors under different climatic conditions. He is a landscape poet inspired by some of the most hostile and forbidding landscapes ever endured."

The discovery of letters enabled Coward to learn about her parents' relationship, her mother's worries and loneliness during the wartime, and about her father's personality.

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

An excerpt from one of the letter, which Jarmain wrote to his wife in 1942, responding to the news of his daughter's birth:

"My Dearest, Your cable reached me this evening, having taken ten days to come. So Janet Susan is waiting for me too now, and you are well and safe.  I have waited very long to hear that. Bless you my dearest, and keep yourself well, for me."

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