The war-time life-line of letters is summed up here. Their erratic arrival in a region of Italy where the battle front moved back and forth like a changeable weather front, with allied soldiers passing through under cover, sometimes asking only for a glimpse of a map before heading off, and occasional visits by the Germans, sometimes in a friendly mode, sometimes less so.

Iris Origo’s diary and account of keeping a farm and an orphanage going in Tuscany through the war, shows the intermittency of communications and the crucial role of the post.

‘At the post-office we receive a bunch of delayed letters, a week old, but are told that none will now be accepted or delivered.’

Source: Iris Origo, War in Val d’Orcia: A Diary, Edinburgh: John Cape Travellers’ Library, 1951 (1947), p. 77

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