With Valentine’s Day just around the corner we take a look at a particularly lovely hand painted envelope from the museum’s naval history collection. A letter was sent by Stoker R Boland to his wife during World War II. Nothing unusual about that, is there? The letter no longer exists but the envelope with its bright and beautiful red roses, bluebirds and hearts does – and it’s just beautiful and quite a surprise. Boland was a stoker on board the destroyer HMAS Quickmatch and his job was hard and physical – keeping the boilers fed with coal.

The ship saw service in the South Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and with the British Pacific Fleet undertaking assaults against Japanese bases and the home islands of Okinawa and Honshu. During this difficult and dangerous time, Boland found the time to not only illustrate the envelopes he sent to both his wife and his mother but also did a number of sketches of life on board his ship of war.

We don’t know much about Stoker R Boland but his drawings, illustrations and sketches offer a wonderful peek into his life. If you know anything about this man and his family, do let us know.

Lindsey Shaw, senior curator

PS What are you doing for your loved one this Valentine’s Day??

Lindsey Shaw

Formerly ANMM Senior Curator, I retired after 27 years of service in 2013 and am now Honorary Research Associate.