Document ReferenceMS 1032
TitlePrivately printed copy of 'War Letters 1939-1945' by Myles Hildyard; 1998
Extent1 item
AbstractUnpublished draft version from 1998 of a collection of letters written by Myles Hildyard during the period 1939-1945 which was later published with some amendments as 'It is bliss here : letters home, 1939-1945' (London : Bloomsbury, 2005)
Access ConditionsAccessible to all readers.
Admin HistoryThe elder son of Gerald Moresby Thoroton Hildyard K.C., Myles Thoroton Hildyard was educated at Eton and at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He entered Lincoln's Inn as a barrister but never practised. In 1939 Myles Thoroton Hildyard joined the Nottinghamshire (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry. The regiment was sent to Palestine and Egypt but not called on to undertake much action. Hildyard was able to spend time sightseeing. In 1941 they were sent to Crete. Hildyard was unable to evacuate the island after the fall of Maleme airfield and his unit surrendered to German troops. After a gruelling march from the south to the north of the island he was interned in a prisoner of war camp at Maleme Airfield. Hildyard and a fellow officer, Michael Parish, escaped in bright blue hospital uniforms and spent the next three months hiding on the island, sheltered by Cretans before escaping in a boat to Turkey by way of Greek islands. Both subsequently received the Military Cross.

Myles returned to his regiment and served in North Africa with the 8th Armoured Division, taking part in the Battle of El Alamein. In 1942 Hildyard joined the 10th Armoured Division in North Africa as an intelligence officer. He also worked in Italy in the same role for the 7th Armoured Division, after a brief period back in the Sherwood Rangers as Adjutant to the Lieutenant Colonel 'Flash' Kellett. After his first period of leave in 1944 he accompanied the Normandy invasion, the reconquest of the Low Countries and the march into Germany as brigade intelligence officer. At the conclusion of the war he served briefly as Secretary of Territorial Army and Air Force Association of the County of Nottingham. He was twice mentioned in despatches and was appointed MBE.

After the war, Myles Thoroton Hildyard took on the task of restoring Flintham Hall in Nottinghamshire. Interested in conservation and heritage, he was a founder member of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and worked actively for the National Trust and the Historic Buildings Trust. In his own backyard, he ensured that the village of Flintham was protected from unsightly development. He was President of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire for more than 40 years, and an author of the historical volume 'The Thorotons' (privately printed, 1991), and various articles on the history of his family. He was elected FSA (Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries) in 1975.
Custodial HistoryThe volume was gifted to Manuscripts and Special Collections in 2020 by Bill Martin and Sandra Mason. It had been presented to Sandra’s mother, Lady Mason of Morton Hall, Nottinghamshire in 2001 by Myles Hildyard.
DescriptionMyles Thoroton Hildyard's diary and letters home (THF/C) chronicle his wartime experiences, including his daring escape from Crete in 1941, and have been published as 'It is bliss here: letters home, 1939-1945' (London: Bloomsbury, 2005). This privately printed version from 1998 of a collection of letters written by Myles Hildyard during the period 1939-1945 differs slightly from the final published version in a small number of ways, particularly the introduction and closing remarks. In the introduction, Hildyard explains that he had intended to print extracts of letters from all three brothers to his parents but in the end had only had room for his and for Toby's letters to him (which he found stored in the attic at Flintham). He lost most of the letters he received from his parents as he was storing them in Cairo and didn't manage to return. Certain elements of the letters have been edited out such as "a good deal of my incessant thinking about Flintham" and he has inserted some extracts from his diary (only the last volume of his diary survived). The letters make frequent mention of family members and contain frank descriptions of the situations he found himself in. He states: "Naturally I minimised the dangers and discomforts of war. I was not too interested in war. But it will be obvious that I enjoyed myself and that I lived a more interesting and social life than before or afterward. In my war there were few responsibilities, good friends, some very great friends, little need for money, interesting surroundings, sunshine, the sea." This volume was one of a number printed for family members, friends, and surviving war companions or their families.

The book includes a dedication to Lady Mason of Morton Hall, Nottinghamshire "Bobby on her 91st birthday with love from Myles, 2.4.'01".
MgtGroupPersonal papers
MgtSubGroup20thC literary manuscripts
ArrangementNo arrangement has been necessary.
TermWorld War, 1939-1945 - Personal narratives
Correspondence - Second World War
FindingAidsThis description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright in the description belongs to The University of Nottingham.
ReprodnNoteReprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.
Related MaterialPapers of the Thoroton and Hildyard families of Screveton and Flintham, Nottinghamshire; 1478-2005 (Ref: THF)
Related RecordTHF
Publication NoteMyles Thoroton Hildyard. It is bliss here : letters home, 1939-1945 (London : Bloomsbury, 2005)

Click the links below to view related name indexes

CodePersonNameDates of existence
NA78832Hildyard; Myles Thoroton (1914-2005); MBE, MC; of Flintham Hall1914-2005
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