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Letter from France in search of long-lost Leyland love

June Elliott, a long lost love to Andre Rault, pictured below

June Elliott, a long lost love to Andre Rault, pictured below

A love-struck Frenchman is attempting to find his childhood sweetheart who originally lived in Leyland.

Andre Rault, of Besancon in France, has sent out a plea for any information to find his soulmate June Elliott.

The pair were inseparable in their younger days until National Service meant Andre was sent travelling the world with the French Navy.

Andre and June exchanged hundreds of letters and the pair had planned to marry upon Andre’s return.

But unforeseen circumstances which saw Andre spend longer at sea than expected prevented this.

Now Andre has sent in a three-page letter to the Guardian with pictures of the pair from their courting days.

It said: “I have very serious reasons to think that my parents had hatched my sending away from France with the purpose of destroying my relationship with June, because they did not want an English girl as a daughter-in-law.”

June once lived at 14 Derby Street, Leyland.

While Andre was away with the navy he received a letter from June informing him she would be leaving for Australia on board a liner of P&O Company, the SS Oronsay that sailed to Australia.

They managed to meet up in Marseilles when June‘s boat was heading to Australia and they spent an “extraordinary day” together but were separated again that night, and Andre has never seen June again.

Last year, he was treated for cancer and after waking from an anaesthetic, he discovered feelings which he thought he had erased.

And now Andre wants to find June again.

If you can help, please ring the Leyland Guardian on 01257 264911.

Here is Andre’s letter:

I am trying to contact a person who played a most significant part in my life. This person is June Elliott. When we met her, her family address was Winstan Lea, 14 Derby Street, Leyland.

Several people I have contact so far have given me some positive information which incites me to persevere. Among them, Dorothy Gardner the former Mayor of South Ribble and Neil Sayer, who is the Archive Access Manger.

Their advice has been fruitful.

One of their suggestions was to contact your newspaper.

I hope my story will interest you, I also hope that local knowledge will bring forth what became of June Elliott and her family.

June was born on June 5 1939 in Leyland. She was ‘Valerie June Elliott’.

She was baptised on July 23, 1939, at Leyland Methodist Church. Her parents were John Stanley Elliott and Winifred Leadbetter, who were married at Leyland Methodist Church in 1935.

I had started working in London in 1958 as a translator for a small company called Caminade Technical Services in Bedford Square, near Tottenham Court Road.

I went to the British Museum practically every day either to look for specialised technical dictionaries and glossaries or to do research for a short thesis on the poetry of Charles Algernon Swinburne. I worked on both sides of the Channel.

In 1961, I met June Elliott. We soon fell in love.

We spent as much time as possible together either in London, Paris and Spain during out holidays.

When June was working in London, her address changed several times. So did mine. June had started teaching in Leyland about three years before.

Our dearest and only wish was to be married, raise a family and live together for the rest of our lives.

I must mention here that June and I were good Protestant people. Going to church to be married was no problem at all.

I could have gone on working as a translator in London, while June would have kept her job teaching in Brixton or in another school.

I had also passed all the necessary diplomas to obtain a good job in France.

But before realising our projects, I had to do my National Service in France. I was called up to the French Navy as a midshipman. Then things did not go at all as we had expected.

I had deserved a job in the French Embassy in London, but it was given to someone else. Instead I was sent on board a cruiser in Toulon. June spent all her summer holidays with me.

June mentioned in one of her numerous letters (November 1962) the marriage of her younger sister, Maureen, with Geoffrey. Their marriage took place in a register office.

In May 1963, June told me that her sister had a little girl called Sarah, and gave me regular news.

Meanwhile I had some trouble with my health, when coming back from a long exhausting campaign in the Indian Ocean, I had complete burnout.

We had made several plans to be married in church as June wanted it, as soon as my National Service would be finished.

For an unknown reason, at that time, it was prolonged several months for a campaign around South America, to accompany the President of the Republic.

I have very serious reasons, today, that I think my parents had ‘hatched’ my sending away from France with the purpose of destroying my relationship with June, because they did not want an English girl as a daughter-in-law. But all this was done in a very hypocritical and roundabout ways.

While we were in Rio de Janeiro, I received a letter from June announcing she had decided to leave England on board a liner of the P & O Company, the S.S. Oronsay, that sailed to Australia. She was a woman officer in charge of a swarm of children.

She told me with some kind irony that her salary was for more important than the pay of the impecunious midshipman I was.

I must say here that my lack of money had made our lives a misery during my whole National Service.

That was the tragic part of our story because when June had decided to leave, I was given a good job as a lecturer in English Literature in a University and I could at long last, assume all my responsibilities as a ‘breadwinner.’

June wrote several times to tell me that the S.S. Oronsay would call in Marseilles on December 31 and that she wanted me to come and see her.

I had returned from South America about a month earlier, so I hurried to Marseilles and went on board the S.S Oronsay.

We spent an extraordinary day together, which still remains beyond description for me.

But when the night came all visitors had to leave. Alone on a darkened quay I began to die slowly.

June had insisted repeatedly on my writing to her, but after the S.S Oronsay had left Marseilles, she never answered my letters.

Last year I was treated for cancer. After waking from a general anaesthetic, I discovered that parts of my life I believed I erased from my memory were once again vivid and intensely present, unaffected by the passage of time.

June reappears within me at every hour, giving birth at the same time to a feeling of great bliss but also great frustration.

The tragic failure of the covenant we had made, of the vows we had exchanged are revived like an open wound. I am looking now for peace and forgiveness. My hope is what we have lived together has not been reduced to bitter ashes.

Since my operation and radiotherapy, I consider that the term of my existence has become a predictable issue.

I have got in touch with my solicitor. His answer so far has been that I should inform him of June’s whereabouts before he can give me any serious advice.

My petition to you is to help me find Sarah, of whom June said she was her niece.

Sarah and Maureen, her mother, could eventually tell me whether June has stayed in Australia or returned home to Britain and how I can contact her.

Yours sincerely, Andre Rault

 

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