Erewash Museum is currently undertaking conservation work on the Margaret Hope Robinson letters – an archive of more than 2,000 letters that give an emotional insight into the lives of families of British prisoners of war (POWs) during the Second World War.
In 1944, Margaret Hope Robinson was a 29-year-old deputy registrar at Ilkeston Registry Office and was desperate for news of her husband Paul Maltby Robinson, a Major with the Sherwood Foresters, who had been captured by the Japanese forces a few years earlier.
She broke Whitehall regulations to interview two repatriated former POWs and produced a pamphlet about life in in a camp near Bangkok, something which gave vital information to hundreds of anxious relatives.
Letters from the families of missing POWs began to flood into Ilkeston as Margaret became a beacon of hope for them. The letters show the support network that grew amongst the relatives as well as detailing many personal tragedies and memorable stories.
Margaret kept all correspondence and the archive that she left behind was given to Erewash Museum by her daughter Penny last year. The war had a happy ending for Margaret, who was eventually reunited with her husband, a prominent local solicitor.