The First World War, the “war to end all wars” 1914-1918, stirred the nationalistic pride and sense of duty to King and Country in our Canadian men and boys. Many hurried to join in the very beginning as it was felt that the war would be over before they got the chance to fight.
Postcards were a chance for those serving to send back home a glimpse of what life in the military was like. They give us a look into what daily life was like for those who served.
While our collection is small, we wanted to share with you what those who served shared with their family and friends back home.
We are always interested in increasing our collection so that we may share with everyone this glimpse into our past. If you have postcards there are three ways in which you could share them with us:
1) a direct donation to the museum
2) loan them to us, we will scan them and return the originals to you
3) if you have a digital image you can send it to us at our email address: LynMuseum@gmail.com
If you can identify some of the ranks and units of specific postcards we would appreciate hearing from you so we can add this information to the picture: LynMuseum@gmail.com
The War at Home
Bustard Camp at Salisbury Plain
In 1914, when the British accepted the Canadian government’s offer of a contingent of 25,000 men, they decided to station the Canadians at Salisbury Plain for final training and work up before going to France.
Salisbury Plain, in central southern England, had since 1898 been one of the British Army’s main training bases. At the time they had nearly 300 square miles of grassy hilly terrain with an occasional stand of trees. There was a thin coat of topsoil on top of a chalk base. The Plain had been used to conduct manoeuvres, summer camps, and rifle and artillery training on the ranges.
In preparation for the Canadians arrival they had pitched floor-boarded tents and erected cook houses. The arrival of an additional 8,000 men above the 25,000 they had been informed to expect, the British Army had to scramble to find additional tents for the men.
The men and women stationed sent postcards home of places they may have visited to send notes and to give them a glimpse of a peaceful England
The Castle from Connaught Park, Dover
Connaught Park was the answer to a long-felt need for a public park in Dover and was achieved in 1883 by the lease of land on rising ground to the north-west of the Castle. Voluntary public subscription covered the cost of landscaping, the lake, trees, shrubs, fencing, and the park-keeper’s lodge.
King Henry II’s Keep (Great Tower) above Inner Curtain Wall (Inner Bailey) and Kings’s Gate. Also has a Western Outer Curtain Wall and Constable’s Gateway. The Park was opened by the Dutchess of Connaught in 1883.
Battle Abbey Gateway
In 1070, Pope Alexander II ordered the Normans to do penance for killing so many people during their conquest of England. In response, William the Conqueror vowed to build an abbey where the Battle of Hastings had taken place, with the high altar of its church on the supposed spot where King Harold fell in that battle on Saturday, 14 October 1066. He started building it, dedicating it to St. Martin, sometimes known as “the Apostle of the Gauls,” though William died before it was completed. Its church was finished in about 1094 and consecrated during the reign of his son William known as Rufus. William I had ruled that the church of St Martin of Battle was to be exempted from all episcopal jurisdiction, putting it on the level of Canterbury. It was remodelled in the late 13th century but virtually destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 under King Henry VIII.
At the dissolution, the displaced monks of Battle Abbey were provided with pensions, including the abbot John Hamond and the prior Richard Salesherst, as well as monks John Henfelde, William Ambrose, Thomas Bede and Thomas Levett, all bachelors in theology.
The abbey and much of its land was given by Henry VIII to his friend and Master of the Horse, Sir Anthony Browne, who demolished the church and parts of the cloister and turned the abbot’s quarters into a country house. (Wikipedia)
The Royal Victoria Hospital or Netley Hospital was a large military hospital in Netley, near Southampton, Hampshire, England. Construction started in 1856 at the suggestion of Queen Victoria but its design caused some controversy, chiefly from Florence Nightingale. Often visited by Queen Victoria, the hospital was extensively used during the First World War. (Wikipedia)
over Marine Parade and CastleDuring both World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) Dover became Fortress Dover – a military zone from where, amongst other things, troops embarked for Continental Europe and beyond. Indeed, Dover, besides being a port was also a major military base with huge barracks on both the Eastern – where the Castle is – and Western Heights. Because Dover was the military port, Folkestone remained the civilian port for the Channel crossing, supplementing as a military port when needs necessitated. (The Dover Historian)
Some Post Cards had little pockets in which were a pull out section of smaller pictures, here is one such card.
During the period 1914-1918, local photographers in British towns, villages and training camps took hundreds of thousands if not millions, of portraits of soldiers in uniform. The photographers were simply responding to the demand of these young men who wanted their picture taken before leaving England for the Western Front and elsewhere. You will find WWI photographs taken in 1914-15, of proud young volunteers – ‘Kitchener’s Men’ – looking pleased to be in their new uniforms and soon to be doing their duty for ‘King and Country’. And there are WWI photographic postcards from 1916 on wards, showing not volunteers but conscripts now, who also look happy to be photographed in khaki – but not always!
HMS Thunderer was the fourth and last Orion class dreadnought battleship built for the Royal Navy in the early 1910s. She spent the bulk of her career assigned to the Home and Grand Fleets. Aside from participating in the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 and the inconclusive action of August 19th, her service during Word War I generally consisted of routine patrols and training in the North Sea.
WWI Silk Post Cards
The embroidered silk postcard is a common souvenir of the First World War. They are blank postcards onto which an embossed paper surround has been glued, to frame and hold a central piece of silk. On the silk, a design is hand-embroidered in coloured thread.
The embroidered postcards were very popular with British soldiers who often sent them home. They were sold in thin paper envelopes but were seldom sent through the post in them. They were too fragile and, more particularly, they represented quite an investment – they were not cheap souvenirs. Usually they were mailed with letters. For this reason, they are often unwritten, with no marks on the back, any message having been sent in an accompanying letter.
The Great War of 1914-18 was certainly not one of the funniest events to be recorded on picture postcards, especially for those men fighting in the mud-filled trenches of France and Belgian. However, there were artists – both military and civilian – who were willing to inject a little humour or satire into their postcard drawings and paintings – even when depicting the gloomiest of situations. (Tony Allen)
Rembering someone left behind
Some people found in verse cards the sentiment that they wanted to convey to another but could not express it themselves. In addition, if the verse was not signed perhaps it gave more of a feeling to the receiver that their soldier had created it. Some of these postcards ran in series. (Tony Allen)
Postcards From France
A variety of post cards were sent from France and Belgium during the war. Some were depicting scenes of the war and destruction, while others depicted Allied Forces united in fighting the Germans. Others were general in nature trying to not focus on the day to day misery that the men and women endured.
13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada), CEF
The battalion was formed from volunteers from the Royal Highland Regiment of Canada (The Black Watch), a militia regiment based in Montreal, as well as men from other militia regiments. Sent to England as part of the First Contingent in September, 1914, the 13th Battalion became part of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division. The 3rd Brigade had the distinction of containing the 13th Battalion (the Royal Highlanders of Canada), the 14th Battalion (the Royal Montreal Regiment), the 15th Battalion (he 48th Highlanders of Canada) and the 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish). (Wikepedia)
Loved Ones Left Behind
It was very common to have photos of loved ones made into postcards and mailed to those serving overseas. Other cards were sent to boost the spirits of the men. Here are some examples of such cards. carried by the men in France to remind them of home.