Postcards of the Great War

As a part of researching my family, there are just a few archival items that have been passed along in our family and some of those are a little worse for wear.  There are two postcards, written by my Great Grandfather John Moors addressed to his son, my Grandfather John Moors.  One is in my auntie’s possession and the other is in my father’s possession.  The first one is known as a silk, easily identifiable because of the stitched front side.

Background and production

Embroidered silk postcards do not all date from the First World War – they were used for sentimental greetings in France before 1914. First exhibited in 1900, they continued to be manufactured until the 1950s. Production peaked during the 1914-18 war, as the format proved especially popular with British soldiers.  The hand-embroidery is thought to have been carried out in domestic houses as ‘out-work’ by civilians in France and Belgium, and in the UK by Belgian refugees. The designs were repeatedly embroidered on rolls of silk.  These were then sent to cities (mainly Paris) for cutting up, final assembly and distribution, in what was probably at that stage a factory operation.

The silk that we have in our family is now behind glass.  I apologize for the glare as it did impact the photograph, but it is great to have a digital image and to be able to share its contents with my family.

John Moors Post Card from Auntie Eleanor's House

On the backside…lovely words…a father to his son.  John asks for mailing information for Walter and George.  I’m pleased that I have placed both of them in this photograph prior to heading overseas.  He writes very much as my grandfather spoke, with a bit of formality.  I reach across time and space to give him my love.  This is August 2016, mid ocean.  My Great Grandfather died, while a patient, during the bombing of Etaples Canada Hospital on May 19, 1918.

Post Card John Moors 11

Walter and George both appear in the 40th Field Battery photo taken at Camp Borden.  I don’t know if my Great Grandfather had any opportunity to reconnect with them.  They both survived the war, though there are several references that put their military units at such locations as Vimy and Passchendaele.

R Walter Haddow 4th fr lft 2nd row frm back

My Great Uncle Walter…

Walter haddow 40th field battery

My Great Uncle George…

George Haddoe 1915 40th Field Battery

The second postcard was more simple issue, sent as my Great Grandfather was returning to the war, after a leave in Paris.  It’s strange, but this object is a real treasure, in my mind.  When one thinks about letters or postcards, there is an intimate relationship between the hand, the eye, and the heart…these two items were held in the hands of my relation.  Quite amazing that they have managed to move through the passage of time!

A couple of things I wonder…

…if my Grandfather sent his father letters.

…if anyone has a photograph of my Great Grandfather in uniform.  As far as I know, the photograph that appears at the bottom of this post is the only one in existence.  This is also a digital image.

I am forever-grateful for these two postcards, the last one post marked March of 1918, two months prior to John’s death.

Front Side Post Card John Moors

John Moors Postcard

P1130628

A Gift Through the Great War Forum

I had left a simple message on a thread that was titled Air Raid on Etaples, on the Great War Forum.  Only days later, I received an electronic message containing photographs of my Great Grandfather’s final resting place.  Neil, a kind and generous gentleman found, visited and archived this spot in a beautiful cemetery in Etaples, France on Sunday, April 13.  I am so grateful for this record as I have no idea if I will ever be able to visit Etaples and I feel, in so many ways, that I know John through the research I have done. I continually feel appreciative of the various people who have supported me in my research over the years; my cousins, libraries, government archives and the administrators of various on-line forums. I received the following correspondence, along with these photographs, on Good Friday morning, April 18.

I hope you don’t mind me sending on a few pictures I took last Sunday (13 April) of John’s grave at Etaples and some general views of the entrance as seen from the location of his grave.
Best wishes
Neil
Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie, April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie, April 13, 2014

Remembering My Great Grandfather: November and Snow

John Moors Etaples Image collected from Ancestry.ca in my family research. Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty), 1914-1948

Plot 65, Row C, Grave 6 Document retrieved from Ancestry.ca Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty), 1914-1948

Yesterday I ended up on another tangent.  My retirement seems to be an entire series of tangents, that seem for a time to be about everything else, but always lead back to me, my identity and what my soul speaks.  My great grandfather John Moors of the 54th Battalion was in a #51 General Hospital bed near Etaples.  Out of nowhere, on the night of May 19, 1918, the enemy conducted a shameful air strike that left nurses and many patients wounded or as in my great grandfather’s case, dead.  Thanks to The Great War forum and other Canadian archives, I was able to find several artifacts, including this silent film, an actual archive of the devastation, that relay the horror of that night.  I am left to really think about the countless men and women who lost their lives in the years 1914 to 1918.  I feel the strength and courage of my family of soldiers coursing through my own blood.  It is a sacred bloodline.

A Post Card to His Son: in Possession of John Moors, his Grand Son

Map of Etaples Training Camp found on The First World War Poetry Digital Archive: Link for Site Follows.

The above map was accessed here, with the primary contributor being listed as The Great War Archive, University of Oxford.

etaples_000

Source of Image: Through These Lines Air Raids See Link Below.

Link for Through These Lines: Research Etaples Here.  Read details about the air raids and peruse various links to War Diaries.

NFB film may be viewed here.

Photo Below: No. 7 Canadian General Hospital, ca. 1917

Source: Library and Archives Canada/Album of Photographs of No.7 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples, France/C-080026

Link: http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/pam_archives/index.php?fuseaction=genitem.displayItem&lang=eng&rec_nbr=3194282&rec_nbr_list=3623063,3194282

Canadian General Hospital 7 Government of Canada Library and Archives: See Link Above

Photo Below: Funeral of Nursing Sister Margaret Lowe, who died of wounds received during a German air raid, May 1918

Source: Library and Archives Canada/Credit: William Rider-Rider/Department of National Defence fonds/PA-040154

Link: http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/pam_archives/index.php?fuseaction=genitem.displayItem&lang=eng&rec_nbr=3194234&rec_nbr_list=3623048,3194234

Sister Margaret Lowe lost her life: Funeral Procession from Government of Canada Library and Archives: See Link Above

Photo Below: Funeral of Nursing Sister Margaret Lowe, who died of wounds received during a German air raid, May 1918

Source: Library and Archives Canada/Credit: William Rider-Rider/Department of National Defence fonds/PA-040154

Link: http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/pam_archives/index.php?fuseaction=genitem.displayItem&lang=eng&rec_nbr=3194234&rec_nbr_list=3623048,3194234

Another Lost Life: Etaples 1918 sister G.M.M.Wake Government of Canada Library and Archives: See Link Above

I am including, here, an image of the Etaples Military Cemetery, in order to recognize the powerful image of so many lives lost.

 

Etaples Military Cemetery: Here rests my great grandfather.

Etaples

According to the War Diary of Matron-in-Chief, British Expeditionary Force, France and Flanders, Miss McCarthy…notes on May 20, 1918

“Received telephone message from A/Principal Matron, Etaples, saying that the Etaples hospitals had been severely bombed during the night.  One Sister (Nursing Sister K. Macdoneald, CAMC) had been killed and 7 wounded at No.1 Canadian Hospital, also many patients and personnel.  At No. 7 Canadian General Hospital there were no casualties among the nursing stuaff but 3 MOs were wounded and some patients killed.  The Nurses’ Club was wrecked but the two BRCS workers were not hurt.  At No. 26 General Hospital there were 2 minor casualties among the nursing staff – Miss Marshall, VAD slightly wounded on the head and admitted to hospital, and Miss Draper, VAD slightly wounded in the writst.  One patient only was killed in this unit.  Part of the Sisters’ quarters were wrecked and one or two of the rooms nearest the railway siding are unfit for use.  There were no casualties among the nursing staff at No.24 General Hospital.  This unit took in a large number of casualties from the Infantry Base Depot and the Household Calvalry Camp.  At No. 46 Stationary Hospital one VAD, Miss W.A.Brampton was somewhat shell-shocked.  A number of patients were killed and wounded.  At No.56 General Hospital there were no casualties among the nursing staff but some amongst patients and personnel.   Nos. 35, 37, 4 and 2 Ambulance Trains were in the siding at the time and were damaged, the only casualty amongst the nursing staff being S/Nurse M. de H. Smith, slightly wounded above the eye.  The Matron-in-Chief, CEF, the Matron-in-Chief, QAIMNS War Office, and DGMS were informed of all casualties.”

Subsequent diary entries took place when the Matron-in-Chief makes her visits.  On the 22nd…she writes.

“Left for Etaples in the afternoon, arriving at the DDMS office at 7 p.m.  Went with the A/Principal Matron, Miss Stronach, to No.1 Canadian General Hospital where I called upon the Matron, Miss Campbell, and inspected the quarters where the recent terrible raid had occurred and saw the rooms which had been absolutely destroyed, also the adjacent building of HRH Princess Victoria’s Rest Club for Nurses which is more or less in ruins.  The only thing left intact in the building was Her Royal Highness’s picture which was on a small table on the ground floor, neither table nor picture being touched.  I saw the seriously wounded Sister, Miss Lowe, CAMC who was being nursed in a hut as her condition was too serious to allow of moving her to the Sick Sisters’ Hospital.  She was just conscious but was very ill.”  Sister Lowe later succumbed to her wounds.

The Canadian Great War Project details my Great Grandfather’s military information here.

My efforts to link to the Library and Archives of Canada collections seems to be a problem when linking to my great grandfather’s attestation papers.

494073a Attestation Papers

John Moors Attestation Papers Page 2

Attestation Papers: Front and Back With gratitude for the Library and Archives Canada http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

My great grandfather, John Moors, is mentioned and the circumstances of his final hours are described in the following documents.  The above War Diary Report was accessed here on the War Diaries of the First World War on Library and Archives Canada.

War diary, May 1918, p. 6 / e001513822

Link: http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/pam_archives/index.php?fuseaction=genitem.displayItem&lang=eng&rec_nbr=2005096&rec_nbr_list=2005096

 

War diary, May 1918, p. 19 / e001117835

Link: http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/pam_archives/index.php?fuseaction=genitem.displayItem&lang=eng&rec_nbr=2006068&rec_nbr_list=2006068

The following excerpt from this UK War Diary.

20.05.18
Sick Sisters 207
Etaples bombed: Received telephone message from A/Principal Matron, Etaples, saying that the Etaples hospitals had been severely bombed during the night. One Sister (Nursing Sister K. Macdonald, CAMC) had been killed and 7 wounded at No.1 Canadian General Hospital, also many patients and personnel. At No.7 Canadian General Hospital there were no casualties among the nursing staff but 3 MOs were wounded and some patients killed. The Nurses’ Club was wrecked but the two BRCS workers were not hurt. At No.26 General Hospital there were 2 minor casualties among the nursing staff – Miss Marshall, VAD slightly wounded on the head and admitted to hospital, and Miss Draper, VAD slightly wounded in the wrist. One patient only was killed in this unit. Part of the Sisters’ quarters were wrecked and one or two of the rooms nearest the railway siding are unfit for use. There were no casualties among the nursing staff at No.24 General Hospital. This unit took in a large number of casualties from the Infantry Base Depot and the Household Cavalry Camp. At No.46 Stationary Hospital one VAD, Miss W. A. Brampton, was somewhat shell-shocked. A number of patients were killed and wounded. At No.56 General Hospital there were no casualties among the nursing staff but some amongst patients and personnel. Nos. 35, 37, 4 and 2 Ambulance Trains were in the siding at the time and were damaged, the only casualty amongst nursing staff being S/Nurse M. de H. Smith, slightly wounded above the eye. The Matron-in-Chief, CEF, the Matron-in-Chief, QAIMNS War Office, and DGMS were informed of all casualties.”

With gratitude to the National Archives of Canada for their rich archival collection.  I intend for this information, from a wide variety of sources, to honour my grandfather and my family and to help us complete a narrative of our national history as it relates to one family.