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.
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.
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.
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.
My Great Uncle Walter…
My Great Uncle George…
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.