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Forces War Records Blog


Blogger: GemSen It might be the last day to post your Christmas cards First Class tomorrow, but during World War One, there would have been a much bigger emphasis on post at this time of year. War had separated families who were unable to spend Christmas together and families of soldiers eagerly watched the letterbox, waiting for cards and letters from the front line. Writing home was the only contact soldiers had with loved ones back in Blighty and as you can imagine, the comfort of family and home was thought about and longed for, even more at Christmas… Christmas cards and letters often contained personal thoughts, wishes and moving messages and was a vital line of communication that provided great comfort to mums, girlfriends, wives, children and families. If you’re interested in taking a look at the sort of cards sent home for Christmas by First World War soldiers, then you might be interested to hear that York Castle Museum have recently revealed some from their collection, reported the Yorkshire Post. And they aren’t just any cards — they’re hand made silk Christmas cards, known as WWI silks, embroidered by French or Belgian women working from their homes or refugee camps, and sold to soldiers as souvenirs.

Apparently, the cards weren’t cheap, but were affordable to the regular Tommy who wanted to send something different home for Christmas. A spokesman for the museum told the Yorkshire Post: “How long it took for the cards to get home entirely depended on where the soldier was stationed, and what stage of the war, as well as the regular issues with any postal service. Most letters and cards had to go through a military censor, which would delay them. “Judging by letters in our collection people were used to getting their post within days of it being sent, but this wasn’t always the norm. Unfortunately, the cards in the collection are not dated, so it is not known which year of World War One they came from. The exquisite cards are being catalogued as part of a big exhibition: '1914: When the World Changed Forever', which opens on June 28, next year. The new exhibition will look at the terror of total war and its revolutionary impact on life around the world. Faye Prior, collections facilitator at York Castle Museum, also commented: “We have many of these hand embroidered cards in our collection and each one offers us a very personal and often moving message from soldiers wishing their family a Merry Christmas. “Thousands of cards similar to these were hand made by women to sell to troops and many show scenes we do not necessarily associate with Christmas today, such as swallows, flowers and boats. It was only later that the trend towards winter scenes, Christmas trees and Father Christmas began to dominate Christmas cards like they do today”. Source: Yorkshire Post Look into the life of your military ancestors with Forces War Records Why not delve into our ‘historic documents’ library and read some of the interesting war diaries that we get sent – there’s nothing quite like reading a personal account of war as history unfolds itself through the eyes of somebody who was actually there. Forces War Records are fortunate to receive such amazing real life war stories involving lashings of courage, and now you can read some of them – completely free of charge. Visit Forces War Records and search our vast collection of records to find out more about your own ancestors  – there could be a war hero in your family just waiting to be discovered and remembered…
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