Thursday, 2 October 2014

WWI Postcard From The Front

The last we heard from Edgar Pedley of the 59th Signal Corps, it was 1916 and he was about to leave for France.

It's now 18 March 1917. Edgar is on Active Service and the postcard he sends is simply postmarked "Field Post Office". A crimson stamp mark attests that his comments have been passed by the Field Censor.

The postcard is one of a French series "La Grand Guerre Européene" ("The Great European War") - even at this stage it was becoming known as "The Great War"... We don't know where the postcard was sent from - the postcard looks as though it once gave the location away, but this has been rubbed or scraped until the name has been obliterated so that if it came into the hands of the enemy they would not be able to tell where Allied troops were stationed.

The remaining caption reads: Intériur de la Sncrerie (sic) - Interior of the Sugar house

Either the U of "sucrerie" was placed upside down by mistake or every U had been lost to war damage and the N inserted as most people (French speakers at least...) would know what was meant. Edgar filled every available space on the back of the postcard yet without giving away any secrets - no mention of his unit or place names, or his rank. In a short sentence right at the top of the postcard he writes: "Read page 3, column 4 Mail Mar 17th" Obviously significant in some way, but I've not been able to find a copy to see. It's possible that this message could have been added later. I can't imagine that Edgar would have managed to read the paper from France only the day after it was published.

There is another postscript added towards the top of the card but in the order that I suspect Edgar wrote his card, he says:

Mar 18th 17

Just a pc to say still going on alright. Parcel not yet to hand, I wonder if somebody's doing it on me, they will have a good time but expect it will turn up eventually, will let you know on receipt. A pal and I have just come a cycle ride to a small village about 4 miles, a terrible place now, but nevertheless possesses a YMCA (in an old barn). Thank you for papers received last night, 17th. Kindest regards to all AEP.

The postscript at the top reads: Thanks for letters of Sunday just received, sorry to hear of Arthur's condition, shall be glad to hear how he's going on.

Postcard from the Hayley Easthope Collection.

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