My Grandmother, Gladys Violet Murray, was a wonderful lady. She came to Canada as a young girl on the Carpathia, the ship that first rescued the Titanic. She loved to entertain, and I am pretty sure that the character Hyacinth Bucket in “Keeping up Appearances” was probably based on her! Grandma’s Sunday roast beef dinners were extraordinary!
In the stack of postcards is this wonderful picture of her wearing a military uniform. I’m not sure to whom the uniform belonged, but clearly a person much taller and longer in the arms! There is nothing on the back, but you can see “Glad H” on the front above her head.
Grandma’s sister, Ivy Harmer was a WREN, a member of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service.
Here is the birthday card that Will sent to Gladys in July of 1918.
France July 20, 1918.
Many happy returns of the day, mon cheri. Fondly yours. Will. XXXXX
P.S. Very much rushed just now. Letter follows first opportunity.
This card has no message from Will on the back. I wonder if he thought it didn’t need any comment at all? On this Remembrance Day Sunday, places of worship across Canada will read the names of their fallen from WWI, WWII and the Korean Conflict. Take a moment today, or Wednesday, November 11th, to remember them.
Will in his regimental kilt on the front of the card. How these were created is fascinating and is described on this interesting webpage.
Somewhere in Flanders. October 31, 1917.
“My dear Glad – no time for a letter just now. Am leaving at 6 p.m. by train for a General Course at Canadian Corps School. So have to get busy packing up. Love from yours affectionately XXO Will”
“Glad” of course, is short for Gladys, my grandmother.
The front lines of the battlefield were no doubt a horrific place to be. Will describes it in his own words on the backs of these officially censored postcards.
Somewhere in France. May 15, 1917
“The wounded are brought out very quickly on these trucks. A man who is wounded gets ‘dressed’ roughly by the advanced Red Cross men then they are taken by truck to the Field Ambulance Base where they are fixed up sufficient for them to stand the trip to Blighty.”
Blighty, I learned, is a slang term from the last century, or earlier, for Britain. This Printed Photographic Postcard (PPC) above is featured on another website describing the postcard history and postcard creation during WWI. It makes for interesting reading.
Somewhere in France. May 17, 1917.
“You wouldn’t want to carry the stretcher case out when there are only two of you carrying. As a rule we have four fellows to each stretcher. Even then it is hard work if you have to carry very far.”
Somewhere in France. May 15, 1917
“When possible a regular funeral is carried out by the chaplain and a big cross erected over his grave.”
I wondered, after reading these three cards, just how many friends and comrades Will had carried, how many he’d seen buried? His matter-of-fact descriptions seem to mask the terrible realities of life on the battlefield. What would he have been thinking and could not write? I’ll continue to read between the lines.
Somewhere in France. March 17, 1917
“There is always a lecture of some sort explaining the attacking formation and the objective which they are to advance to before an offensive or a raid is made.”
This is the second in a series of almost 40 postcards I found while sorting through my Grandmother Murray’s things kept by my father. Will, my grandmother’s fiancee, wrote her regularly, sometimes about how much he missed her, sometimes about the routines of life as a WWI soldier, sometimes the humour in it. Will perished before the end of the war. I’ll continue to upload a postcard each day to give us an insight into life on the WWI battlefront through Will’s perspective.
Recently, after moving my parents out of their Toronto lakefront condo, I found a box of postcards, old postcards in fact, that my father kept. They belonged to my grandmother, Gladys Murray (nee Harmer). Most of them were love notes sent from her fiancee from France during WWI. What an amazing insight into the times, into life on the front, my grandmother, and Will, the man she never married. Will was killed near the end of the War. In the photo above, Will wears his regimental kilt. It was taken in Flanders October 30th, 1917.
For the next week, I will post some of the 40 postcards, most sent from “Somewhere in France.” Some of them are humorous, some flirtatious, some explain the activities and training of the soldiers, some just the horrors. Others are actual photos from the front, while a few are officially censored postcards meant to be sent back home to family.
Enjoy these insights into the life of a WWI soldier as reflected in these postcards from Will.
Bramshott Camp. February 24, 1916
“Do you think you have forgotten how to do this. If you have, buy one of those dummies you see in some of the dry goods stores and practice on that. (Good advice that)”
The need to disseminate education efficiently imposed that classrooms should no longer be confined within four walls. So distance learning came into being. Then as technology evolved, lessons were not only delivered to mailboxes (the ones on the curb) but also reached learners on their computers. Thus eLearning developed. And now, because learners are no…