Baddow & Galleywood

0011 November 2018 - Kate J. Cole

Postcards from the Front

Today’s talk by Kate J. Cole, a local historian who lives in Maldon, was excellent. She told the story of the Great War illustrated with postcards from her collection. Her story was from 1914 to 1919, as until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1914, there were soldiers serving all over the world so the post was still being used. The post during the war was the key to boosting the soldiers’ morale. Throughout the war a train went daily from Victoria Station with mail, and as time went on more and more carriages were added. In late 1914 a huge sorting office was built in Regents Park. It covered five acres of land and each week 12 million letters and postcards and one million parcels were dealt with. By the end of the war most of the 2500 employees were women. Out in Europe they had Army Post Offices which were in buildings and Field Post Offices which consisted of no more than a table and a basket and could be picked up and taken with them.

Kate emphasised how important it is to read the back of the postcard for the ‘story’. The last words on the postcards were usually very up-beat. But there were often things written in the content that were important – she had one that said that he had seen the Prince of Wales out for a walk [this was in Warley – he was one of the first to sign up.] She showed us a variety of postcards and told us how much she had to pay for the special ones! The silk embroidered postcards were much more expensive to buy from the ladies in France, selling at the roadside. Creating the postcards was a cottage industry in France and those that are ‘perfect’ were produced using machines en masse.