Sybil Trickey

June 6, 2010

Sybil in Windsor Great Park, 1937

My parents were married in 1947 but another woman had been uppermost in my father’s thoughts during his captivity. By the time he returned, however, she had married someone else. It was a common enough story but none the less wrenching for that.

Sybil Trickey had been one of my father’s natural history friends in and around Slough in the late 1930s. Whether she was also affiliated in some way with the Imperial Institute of Entomology at Farnham House I cannot tell though it seems possible. In any case, she was clearly one of a tightly knit group of friends that spent their weekends hiking in the Chilterns and camping by the Thames near Henley.  At some point before he left for Singapore they were engaged.

Sybil wrote more than 120 letters to my father while he was a POW though he may have received only a small number of them.  Still, he later described her letters as his “salvation” during those long years of captivity.  He did not keep them, naturally enough, though the envelopes were preserved among his Singapore notes as he needed them to write on.

Like many others he did not find out that she had married someone else until he got home.  But I am quite sure that hers was not the heartless act that it may seem.  My father had only been able to send five postcards home since his capture and it’s likely that two or three of them didn’t get through.  Indeed, it’s possible that she heard nothing from him after January 1943 and may well have feared the worst.

Still, she kept writing.  Her last letter to him was in March 1945.