We are always delighted and amazed by some of the keepsakes and souvenirs from the First World War that our clients bring with them on our battlefield tours. None are more beautiful than the silk embroidered postcards that were sent from the soldiers at the front to their loved ones back home in Blighty. We have been privileged to have seen several of these at first hand and the quality of work and love gone into the creation of these artefacts is extraordinary.
A question that is frequently asked is who made these cards – not the soldiers surely! The answer is that they were painstakingly made by women in France and Belgium during World War 1, providing a much needed income for them when their husbands were away fighting in the trenches or after having been widowed with young families to look after. A wide range of designs, postcards sent home included seasonal greetings, flags of the allies, patriotic images and sentimental pictures of birds and flowers.
A bitter-sweet mix of beauty and pain, the embroidered images conveyed are hopeful, but the personal messages, often written in handsome manuscript, although positive in outlook, try to disguise the devastation of life in battle and horrors of the trenches during the war years.
When we visit Talbot House in Poperinge, just outside Ypres, for our Chapters from the Western Front, there is a wonderful display of cards in the museum. Well worth a trip. In the meantime, here are some examples of the cards troops sent home to their loved ones.