A Culture volunteer working on the Poole History Centre First World War project highlights some Christmas cards and postcards from the Poole History Centre. The volume of letters and cards that went between Britain and the various battle fronts throughout the world was huge and especially at Christmas-time.
This rather unusual Christmas card, ‘Windy Corner’ with ‘Xmas Greetings from 5th B.S’, is believed to have been sent from someone who served on the Queen Elizabeth battleship HMS Barham. This was the flagship of the 5th Battlecruiser Squadron, commanded by Rear Admiral H. Evan-Thomas, which took part in the Battle of Jutland. The second Christmas card is also apparently of HMS Barham but all that can be seen of the ship is the foremast and control platform. The recipient must have mixed feelings on receiving it!
The ‘Your King and Country Thank You’ Christmas card was sent by the Rev. E. Hounslow, Rector of Hamworthy Church, to Rifleman George Stokes in November 1917. Included was a two page letter describing what the Rector knew about the fortunes of his various parishioners who were in the army and navy. Many Hamworthy men sent letters to the Rev. Hounslow which he then included in the ‘St Michael’s Parish Magazine’ and this enabled the men to keep in touch with each other and those at home. The Parish magazine notes were often reported in the Poole and East Dorset Herald newspaper. For example, the February 22nd 1917 issue included a short piece from George Stokes who had written from Falmouth saying he was on a Musketry Course. Other Hamworthy men mentioned in the same issue were Sidney Short (who was in Mesopotamia), Sidney White (in a hospital in India), Mr Goff (promoted to a Sergeant), W. Kearley (was in the trenches), D. Wadham (also in the trenches), R.Trace (on a ship), Albert Woodland, F.C. Barnes, H.G. Jeffery, A. Gillingham and Charlie Mitchener. E. Gurd, who was stationed in Salonika, looked forward to receiving the Parish Magazine every month because of the news it contained.
This plain Christmas card was sent home by George Stokes while on service with the 25th Battalion Rifle Brigade. Inside is a simple printed greeting and then a very brief history of the 25th and a colour illustration of the 1808 Christmas during the Peninsular War.
Postcards of the era often conveyed the feelings of absence and longing that many felt.
The postcard ‘thinking of you’ was sent to Rifleman George Stokes while he was in ‘B’ Company, 13th Rifle Brigade in France and is postmarked 12 August 1918.