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.

Embroidered Silk Christmas Postcard from WWI - Forces War Records Collection.

Apparently, the cards weren’t cheap but were affordable to the regular Tommy who wanted to send something different home for Christmas. 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. 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.

Thousands of cards 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. 

The women who created them worked the embroidery to create strips that could be used on up to 25 cards and then sent the finished strips to factories where they would be cut and mounted, ready to be sold.

Please make sure that your loved ones receive their Christmas cards by observing the recommended posting dates for Christmas 2016.

UK Inland Services

Tuesday 20 December -           2nd Class and Royal Mail Signed For 2nd Class

Wed 21 December       -           1st Class and Royal Mail Signed For 1st Class

Thurs 22 December     -           Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed

Friday 23 December    -           Royal Mail Special Delivery Saturday Guaranteed

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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