Incredible story of wartime love set to make its stage debut

BOOK From left, Dr Philip Aston with Pamela Kirrage and her son Christopher Hill and grandaughter Felicity Wilkinson.

BOOK From left, Dr Philip Aston with Pamela Kirrage and her son Christopher Hill and grandaughter Felicity Wilkinson.

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A STORY of love in wartime, a coded diary and some extremely complex maths have been made into a musical.

While studying maths at university Louise Helyer, 24, of Grange Crescent in Gosport first heard of the story of Donald Hill, an RAF pilot who recorded his experiences as a prisoner of war in a coded diary.

Her lecturer, Dr Philip Aston, had decoded the Second World War pilot’s diary and Louise spotted his work online.

She soon saw the story of the decoding had been turned into a book, The Code of Love by Andro Linklater, bringing together Hill’s diary and Aston’s decoding.

Louise, a freelance musician, worked on adapting the book from June to December last year after graduating from the University of Surrey.

She said: ‘The book was put together a few years after the diary was decoded.

‘It follows a pattern. It tells one part of the story and then the other part and then goes back to 50 years in the future.

‘I’m trying to do the same thing with the musical.’

Hill’s romance with a woman in Gosport is central to the book and musical.

Hill trained at Gosport Aerodrome and fell in love with Pamela Kirrage, whom he met in the town at the RAF 21st anniversary dance in 1939.

But the relationship was interrupted after Hill was sent to Hong Kong, which was later surrendered by the British to the Japanese in 1941.

It was while a PoW in Hong Kong Hill turned to writing his diary, using a seemingly undecipherable table of numbers, 34 across, to record his experiences.

But at the end of the war, and six years apart from his then wife Pamela, Hill had no desire to decode it himself and forgot the key to unlocking his experiences.

After his death, Pamela took the diary to Dr Aston who took six months to discover the 34-letter codeword that, once translated to numbers, could unlock the secrets.

And it was indeed a code of love – the keyword was Donald Samuel Hill Pamela Seely Kirrage.

The show comes to Thorngate Halls in Bury Road, Gosport for three days, with the first performance on August 15.

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