Chinese war heroine nursed secret of lost love

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She was a beautiful young Chinese nurse, fresh from a Hong Kong training college. He was the epitome of glamour in war-wracked China, an American "Flying Tiger", one of the select group of fighter pilots who defended the supply chain across the Himalayas for the troops fighting the Japanese.

Amid the carnage, they fell in love, and the pilot - known to this day only by his nickname, Panny - promised to return after the war was over to find her.

It took 60 years, and the arrival of a package containing his long-lost love letters, before Rita Wong learned how he had tried, but failed, to keep his promise.

The letters had reached a cousin but when he tried to forward them to her deep inside Communist China, they were ''returned to sender''. Now, after her death on Tuesday at the age of 95, her son has spoken of the love his mother won and lost in war and in China's post-war chaos.

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