Barbara Harper-Nelson was once the 19-year-old girlfriend, living in Liverpool, of 22-year-old French airman Francis Usai, who was in the RAF Bomber Command. Amazingly, she kept the letters (over 2,000 pages of correspondence) from this witty and amusing young French airman, exiled from his conquered country and based near York, from where he undertook nightly missions into the horrendous firestorm that was the Battle of the Ruhr.
Along with her own diaries, these letters constitute a unique, evocative, often amusing conversation between young people during a time unprecedented in history and with the daily threat of permanent separation, plus the very regular loss of close friends - 50 per cent of all air crews were killed. The intensity of their love story and the quality of their courage catch at the heart.
Barbara Harper-Nelson (nee Rigby), was living in Liverpool when she met 22 year-old Francis Usai of the Free French air force based in England. This book is based on their remarkable diaries and letters. The correspondence is edited by French film-maker Genevieve Monneris and translated into English by Michel Darribehaude, Senior Lecturer in British Civilisation Studies at the Universite du Sud Toulon Var. Genevieve Monneris won Best Documentary, at the Imperial War Museum London Film Festival 2012, for De Lourds Souvenirs, 24-12-1944, a film about her father's aircrew (347 `Tunisie' Squadron) made with her son Thomas Lesgoirres. She is the author of two other documentary films in memory of the French Squadrons in RAF Bomber Command, which have been screened at the Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington / York, and at London Imperial War Museum: Apart from that, everything's ok! including six French veterans' accounts with archive wartime footage, and Henry and Pat, December 1943-November 1944, a film about another Franco-English couple, Henri and Pat Martin who were Francis and Barbara's closest friends.