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


John Moors 1841 – 1914

My great great grandfather,  John Moors, is somewhat elusive on my ancestral search.  I am having a difficult time finding his parents.  Through a number of links, I have his birthplace as Yeovil, Somerset, England.  It may be  that he is the son of a Jane Moors, resident of the Swan Inn at the time.  Jane disappears soon afterward, so I am also going to make the assumption that John ended up lost in the struggles of the community at the time, likely orphaned…dunno.  I put this research ‘out there’ in the hopes that other researchers might confirm or add to my information.  I also hope that my research makes the search for others less taxing.

Birth Record

Birth Record

He married a Grace Rebecca Porter and together, they had four girls and one son, also named John.  It was this lad who ended up on a ship at the age of 13, a home child to Canada, working on a piece of land in the Arthur area until 1898, when his father, mother and family also immigrated to Canada.

This watch was presented to my Great Great before he immigrated to Canada in 1898.  It, in turn, was passed on to my Great Grandfather who passed it to my Grandfather.  Unfortunately, it fell under disrepair before it found its way into my father’s hands.  Still, the historical inscription remains.


1865 to 1935 Canadian Passenger List

1865 to 1935 Canadian Passenger List

Of his grandfather, MY grandfather, John Moors, says…

“My Grandfather Moors was a red-headed man with the most beautiful blue eyes that you ever did look at!  He was a very quiet man.  And Grandma Moors was a very short lady, especially when compared with my father who was 6’2″.  When we went down to visit Grandma and Grandpa, just as a joke, Father would pick Grandma up by the elbows, right up off the floor, and give her a great big kiss.  He’d put her down and we’d all laugh.  Of course, Grandma rather enjoyed it too, I’m sure!

Grandfather Moors took me to the Toronto Exhibition to see another new-fangled idea, the milking machine.  He promised me that we would go to the midway.  Of course we didn’t make it because all he did was look at the cattle, hogs and horses.  The result of that trip was the purchase of a cream separator.  He told us that if he caught any of us playing with this machine, what he would do to us would fill a book.  But I noticed that after the beauty and novelty wore off, we soon got our turn to run it.  There wasn’t much fun in it after all!”

Interesting that on Rose Margaret’s marriage to Harry Clayton, on the marriage certificate, John is listed as being a Stencil Maker.  See on the far left side of the document.

Rose Margaret Moors Married to Harry Clayton

John Moors was laid to rest in 1914 in an unmarked grave in the Hamilton Cemetery, sharing the space with my great Uncle Robert A. Moors.  His only son (Canadian home child), John Moors, is at rest in Etaples, France, having died as the result of a German bombing raid on Canadian Hospitals in Etaples on May 19, 1918.

John's signature on his marriage certificate...

John’s signature on his marriage certificate…

Marriage Certificate DetailP1130137The spot where Robert rests is well marked.  His wife, Jessie Maclean, has also slipped beneath my genealogy radar.

Robert A. Moors 1910 - 1979

Resting Place for Robert A. Moors and to the left of this flat marker would be John Moors, Robert's grandfather.

Resting Place for Robert A. Moors and to the left of this flat marker, foreground would be John Moors, Robert’s grandfather.  Hamilton Cemetery York Blvd

The Great War Forum

War Diary

Image below borrowed from Wikimedia.

Lavery, John (Sir) (RA) (RSA) – The Cemetery, Etaples, 1919

It is with gratitude that I have found and finally registered with The Great War Forum.  The research and the heart felt participation of so many has been invaluable as I have piece-by-piece reconstructed the military history of some of my family.   In order to respect the anonymity of the participants, I have used no names, but wish to point out this site for any individuals who are doing research on their own relations.

Yesterday, I wrote…

My great grandfather, John Moors, was killed while wounded in Canadian Hospital #51 during the bombing raid of May 19, 1918, leaving his widow and children to grieve in Hamilton, Ontario.  I am so grateful to this site for sending me to various links regarding the circumstances of that night.  I was wondering if anyone knows if the wounded/or killed soldiers of this night were awarded the Victoria Cross.  Where would I obtain information on whether or not our family holds that history?

From a member.

Hi and welcome to the forum, as you can see this thread  originally dates from 2008 and refers to the raid of the 1st June 1918.

My great uncle was also killed during the raid on Etaples  on 19th May (in all probability one of those referred to in the  Matron-in – Chief’s war diary (from Sue Light’s Scarlet finders site above) as one of the casualties brought in from the IBD see http://www.scarletfi…

It is arguable whether the Infantry Base Depot (where the hospitals were located) was a legitimate target as it was a staging post for reinforcements, but at the time there were no air raid precautions were in place when the first raid took place on the 19th.  There was no black-out and the hospitals were clearly marked with  the Red Cross.

The raid on Etaples was conducted by Boghol (Bomber Squadron) 6 of the Imperial German Army Air Force.  The Squadron flew AEG bombers
( http://www.wwiaviati…ers_german.html ) and was based at Matigny, close to Saint Quentin.

The series of raids  became known as ‘the hospital raids’ and later cited as the League of Nations grappled with the ethics and morality of aerial bombardment during the subsequent post-war decades.

I’ve previously posted a link to the Canadian War Memorial site where there is a film of the funerals the following day(s)…m.php?id=531255
four minutes into the film it can be clearly seen the padre is reading the eulogy over a mass grave.

Etaples cemetery (the largest CWGC Cemetery in France) is unique in that officers and men are segregated (the nurses are buried with the officers) whereas the casualties from the air raid are in a long line across the front of plots LXV – LXV111 (see CWGC…LITARY CEMETERY click VIEW CEMETERY PLAN). It’s slightly raised and looks over the rest of the cemetery and probably not a bad place to spend eternity.  From this I assume the internments shown in the film are of the other ranks, including your relative and mine, rather than the nurses who, with the officers killed that night are interred in plot XXV111.

Given the dates include those who died the following day I suspect the film shows the mass funeral on the 21st May but I have no evidence for this.

There are a number of posts on the forum concerning the raid/casualties e.g. http://1914-1918.inv…showtopic=70354

I have a copy of the War Diary for one of the Canadian Hospitals but can’t put my hands on it at the moment but it was available online in the Canadian War Memorial collections.

As far as I know no decorations were awarded as  a result of this action and no VC has ever been awarded to a soldier named Moors (VC database Ancestry).

I am grateful to this member and to all of the Great War Forum.

Nurses Disdain Death to Help Wounded Men: A Transcription

Photograph and Toronto Star newspaper archive located here.

The Toronto Star: May 25, 1918 

(My great grandfather, John Moors, was one of the Canadians killed in this German raid in Etaples, France)

Subtitle: Wonderful Courage of Sisters Under Rain of Hun Bombs Told by Toronto Star’s Special Correspondent – All Volunteer When Matron Calls – Monster Bomb Blows to Bits


Special Cable to The Star by F. A. McKenzie, Copyright

Hospital City in France, May 25 –

German kultur has shown itself again in the deliberate murder of Canadian and British nurses, doctors, orderlies and patients under circumstances of such appalling callousness that even those life myself who have witnessed endless German misdeeds since the early Belgian days turn away sickened.  I have just been hearing the brave simple tales of our nurses who escaped.  No words would sufficiently emphasize ones sense of their splendid conduct.

The hospital city is a well-known district placed around a valley in a sandy channel near the coast, where a large number of temporary hospitals have been grouped together.  Since the early days of the war it has been frequently described in great detail.  It’s position and its purpose are as perfectly well-known to the Germans as to ourselves.

Until Sunday our authorities, not believing that even the Germans would deliberately bomb a large hospital centre, left the place entirely open.  Two big Canadian hospitals were there.  These consisted of tents and wooden galvanized iron huts.  There were no bomb-proof shelters, as shelter-giving protection even from bomb fragments.

Sad Sequel to Concert

On Sunday evening there had been a concert.  The sisters returning to quarters suddenly heard a loud humming, and immediately one monster bomb fell direct upon the sleeping quarters of the Canadian orderlies and the other personnel.  Many were blown to bits.  Fire began and this gave the enemy a target.  The survivors rushed up in an attempt to extinguish the flames.  Those soon, however, made the whole area visible, thus clearly showing it even if the Germans did not know before what the place was.

The enermy airmen rained down bomb after bomb, some of small calibre solely man-killing bombs, others of a very large size.  Two doctors, rushing to help, were caught by a bomb.  One was killed and the other wounded.  All the lights were immediately turned out except the little hand lamps with which the doctors and nursing sisters hastily sought to help the wounded.  Sisters in night quarters were ordered to lie down under their beds.

All the Nurses Volunteer

The matron of No. 7 called two volunteers to move across the open under bomb fire and give needed help.  Every sister present immediately volunteered.  She took the nearest two, who moved out unhesitantly, as though selected for a special honour.

One bomb fell among five sisters in quarter No. 1, killing one sister almost instantly and wounding five others, of whom one died shortly afterwards.  Another was very seriously hurt.  The conduct of the patients, mostly British private soldiers, was magnificent.  Their chief anxiety was lest the sisters should be hurt.  In Ward 1, where one sister persisted in exposing herself in order to help, the men patients held her down, refusing to let her court almost certain destruction.  Between bombs, doctors, nurses and patients able to move got  about helping the injured and instantly flinging themselves on the ground as each bomb fell.  There was nowhere to take anyone for shelter, for the huts were like tissue paper under the fire.

The first German squadron, after about a three-quarter-hour bombardment, sailed away.  Immediately all energy was concentrated upon relieving the injured.  British soldiers arrived to help and then a second German squadron came.  Altogether four squadrons attacked this hospital city.  Nearly every hospital besides the Canadian was bombed.  The one exception was the hospital next the the German prison camp.  The prison camp itself also escaped, the enemy evidently knowing its location.  The total casualties amounted to many hundreds.  Our Canadian list, you  have officially received.

Given Soldiers’ Funerals

The funeral was held Tuesday in a beautiful cemetery near the pine woods and the sea.  Everyone attended.  Our girls were given a soldier’s burial.  The Germans returned Tuesday night.  This time, however, preparations had been made to repel them, compelling their retirement.  Immediate steps were taken to make the camp more safe against attack, the nurses being taken to sleep at night time in the woods some distance away.  Dugouts are now being hastily built to give all shelter.  Yesterday afternoon steel helmets were served out to the nurses.  One cannot fail to see how heavy the strain has been on them.

The story of this outrage is arousing the whole army to fury.  Australian troops, besides our own, particularly swearing vengeance against every German.  Many of the victims were Ontario folk.

Special recognition should be given to the orderlies who suffered so heavily, Canadian men being killed and injured.  Many of these orderlies were elderly men who had served for years with their units since the early days of the war, doing service whose faithfulness and excellence aroused general respect.

All Deserve the V. C.

“Every night sister deserves the Victoria Cross for the way they kept on,” say the day sisters, but both day and night sisters have had an experience which showed to the full their splendid qualities.  frankly, no words can give an idea of the horrors of Sunday night’s scene.  It’s only relieving feature was the courage and faithfulness of all our people.

One German plane brought down contained two airmen, who declared they did not know there was a hospital below.  This is incredible.  Certainly their superiors knew, while the burning buildings must have revealed the position even to the blindest airman.  They flew at a very low height, under brilliant moonlight.  Their idea of ignorance is a cowardly evasion, adding horror to their crime.  F.A. McKenzie

Nursing Sister, Katherine Maude Macdonald of Brantford, who is reported killed in action, May 19, is the first Canadian nurse who is known to have died in this attack on the hospitals.

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. Marsha Norman