Love letters written 75 years ago that were discovered in Kolan Shire Council archives have been returned to the author’s family.
The letters were discovered in a box of Council records which archivists were digitising.
In May 1945, Gloria Kennerley, based in Victoria, wrote two letters to her sweetheart Lennard Mann in New South Wales, speaking of her love for him and their plans to be married.
“Darling, time will soon go and we will be together forever then…” Gloria wrote.
“By the way you know all those little kisses you put on my last letter well I counted them all and there were 303 little ones and 6 great big ones and I am going to collect them all when I come up…”
Gloria’s letters were likewise covered in ‘kisses’ and endearments, plainly portraying the pair’s affection for one another.
The corner of the last page reads “cherrio [sic] Darling with oceans of love and a kiss on every wave”.
Bundaberg Regional Council senior records officer Quintin Graham was touched by the personal nature of the letters and was determined to return them to their rightful owners.
“It was just a box, just like an old cardboard box, littered with council documents,” Quintin said.
“Nothing really coherent or consistent in the box … someone had written 50 years plus on the box, and that was it.
“We can't work out how they've come to be in Kolan Shire Council, after all these years.
“There was no cover note, nothing in the box that's even remotely related.
“But I just felt compelled to send it home, not knowing where that home is.
“It just felt right to try and find it.”
He then started a month-long search to track down Gloria and Lennard’s family.
Initial investigations revealed a wedding notice published in the Border Morning Mail on Saturday 4 May, 1946 confirming the two corresponding love birds were indeed married less then a year from the date of the letters.
Quintin was elated at this find – the notice contained the names of family members which gave him a wider base for his search.
The project soon consumed much of his personal time and Quintin would spend his lunch breaks scouring electoral rolls and ancestry websites to discover where the couple had lived with the hope of finding living relatives.
Eventually, when these avenues ran dry, Quintin turned to social media searching for any Manns living in areas he knew the couple had registered an address.
“They moved nearly 10 times.”
But this week Quintin’s love letter search uncovered Gloria and Lennard’s granddaughter Simone Mann, in Bendigo, as well as a daughter-in-law living in Hervey Bay.
“I was very elated, very relieved,” Quintin said.
“It just felt like it's finally coming home and like how it was meant to be.”
Simone was blown away to receive this link to her grandparents, who passed away a number of years ago.
“It’s the most incredible thing,” Simone said.
“How the hell they ended up in that box – I’m wracking my brain as to how they would have gotten there.
“[Quintin’s] just amazing, the fact that they spent so much time … it’s just phenomenal.
“I really can’t thank him enough.
“He could have just thrown them out, they’re really not Council matters.
“I’ve got kids now too so it’s something that I can pass on to them.
“I still get a bit emotional from it.”
Simone said it was such a treasure for the family to be able to have the love letters returned as the documents were demonstrative of the type of relationship her grandparents shared.
“My grandmother absolutely loved Lenny,” she said.
“But he was just besotted with her.
“From the moment they met to the moment he lost her, he was besotted with her, he would do anything for her.
“It was a true love story.”
Growing up Simone said she was very close to her grandparents and held very fond memories of time spent together.
“My grandmother was a dress maker, she loved to make clothes.
“She was always sewing and making things.
“Lenny would be like ‘I’ve got to go watch my westerns’.
“So he’d be watching westerns on daytime movies while she was knitting.
“They loved to travel, they travelled a lot in their younger years.”
She said Gloria was a determined woman who “didn’t let anything hold her back”.
“She was absolutely stunning as a young woman.
“She had beautiful golden blonde hair – no wonder he was smitten with her,” she laughed.
“She was in the land army … she was just a real go getter.”
Simone took to The Kindness Pandemic Australia Facebook page to share the story of the returned love letters to show her gratitude for Quintin’s relentless search.
“There’s just not enough of it these days.
“I’m very, very grateful to him.
“They will be certainly treasured.”
In a fortunate twist of fate, Gloria’s sister will be travelling to Bundaberg for a Christmas holiday.
“Which is just also strange,” Simone said.
She is hoping to organise for her grandmother’s sister to return the love letters to her.
“I certainly would love to have those originals.”
While it’s unclear how the letters ended up in the Kolan Shire Council archives, Gloria and Lennard Mann did settle in Bundaberg South in the 2000s.
Quintin stumbled across this fact in a search of local Council records which showed the pair actually won the “most colourful garden bed” category of Bundaberg City Council’s annual gardening competition in 2000.
Now Simone is determined to speak with family members and do her own research in to the mystery behind these cherished love letters.