Written By: Ben Cosgrove

The photos here, made by LIFE’s Alfred Eisenstaedt in April 1943 at the height of the Second World War, capture farewell kisses that are particularly fraught. These young men, bidding their sweethearts farewell, faced the possibility that they might never return from the war. 

In its February 14, 1944 issue (Valentine’s Day), in which many of these pictures appeared, here’s how LIFE magazine described the scenes:

They stand in front of the gates leading to the trains, deep in each other’s arms, not caring who sees or what they think.

Each goodbye is a drama complete in itself, which Eisenstaedt’s pictures movingly tell. Sometimes the girl stands with arms around the boys’ waist, hands tightly clasped behind. Another fits her head into the curve of his cheek while tears fall onto his coat. Now and then the boy will take her face between his hands and speak reassuringly. Or if the wait is long they may just stand quietly, not saying anything. The common denominator of all these goodbyes is sadness and tenderness, and complete oblivion for the moment to anything but their own individual heartaches.

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell kiss, Penn Station, 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Farewell to departing troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943.

Farewell to departing troops at New York’s Penn Station, April 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

More Like This

history

Celebrate the 1970s

Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy and other civil rights leaders walk in Medgar Evers' funeral procession, Jackson, Miss.. history

Medgar Evers’ Funeral, June, 1963

history

Mary: Blessed Art Thou Among Women

history

A Story of America in 100 Photographs

history

The Influenza Outbreak of 1957

history

Michelle Obama: Her Inspiring Story