Tuesday, 26 August 2014

WWI Era Postcard Shows Disaster Near Hatfield

Met up with several friends at the Shrewsbury charity gig, but one in particular - Hayley Easthope - has given me lots of postcards in the past and presented me with a bunch of World War One era postcards as we got together. I'll show them over several articles as there are a few different subjects - a collection of views of Amiens, a comic postcard booklet collection about the Mannequin Pis in Brussels and a handful with messages from the War and just after.

I'll start with this one though. The original is very faded and I expect was taken by a local photographer and hastily produced due to the topicality of the subject matter. Unfortunately the stamp has been removed which robs the card of its dated postmark, but it was removed without enough time or water as the stamp has ripped and the fragment remaining is a green halfpenny stamp of King George V, whose reign began in 1910.

The postcard was written in pencil which has also faded badly, but by scanning it and playing about with tone, contrast and brightness I think I've managed to decipher the tiny writing - the sender managed to fit quite a sizeable message on his card. Plenty of value for a ha'penny which in today's money is just £0.0020833 - only just over a fifth of today's penny.

I suspect the writer was training in the army as "leave" is mentioned and quite possibly was on placement working on a farm from a comment about working hours. They signed with a bit of a squiggle which I'm afraid I can't make out.

The card reads:

This is one of the victims of our storm. Two old people were sitting at the table when this fell down but marvellously escaped. Am at this place now, a little village called Essendon about 4 miles from Hatfield. This is the very first chance I've had to write since last, they work in country from morn till night.

Very many thanks for parcel duly rec'd awfully sorry couldn't come last weekend they stopped leave on Sat morning owing to the telegraph breakdown. I don't know yet if I shall be able to come this weekend, will write letter as soon as possible. Kind regards...

* * * * * * * *

By the time the photographer reached the scene to take his photograph the fallen tree has been chopped and sawn into several parts, but it is possible to get a good idea of the size of it and the damage it did to the house that it fell on. The old couple at their table had a lucky escape indeed!

Post Script: Hayley has messaged me to say - The sender was Edgar Pedley my dad's uncle. He served in the signals. (which explains why leave was cancelled due to the broken telegraph! - John) I have a photo of him in uniform.

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