Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

A postcard to Mother

I've just noticed a little scribbled note in my work diary . . . "blog about the postcard" . . . I almost forgot. So here's the story of a postcard that was passed on to my Mum from her cousin; earlier this year he'd found the card among some old papers belonging to his grandmother.

The post mark reads DOVER 11am 18 Sep 1918, the one penny stamp is stuck on upside down and written in pencil is the recipient's name, Mrs. A. J. Few "Grocer Etc."

Do you think the writer was in a hurry? Maybe young and not used to writing postcards? Or perhaps tired and nervous?

Here's the message . . .

Dear Mother
Arrived here about 5 o'clock this morning am alright don't worry. Will write again as soon as possiable. Ern xxxx

This is Ern . . .

And 'here' was the Admiralty Pier at Dover, where thousands of young men boarded troop ships to take them to war.

Before they went, this group of young soldiers from the Northamptonshire Regiment posed for a group photo, there's Ern standing at the back – he's very tall and probably a bit shy. They'd spent the summer on the Isle of Sheppey learning how to dig trenches, now it was their turn to cross the English Channel to join the battle in Belgium.

Ern and his friend Harold (front right in the photo) were two of the lucky ones, they survived uninjured and came home.

I've written about Ern before in this post, he's my Grandad, here's his kit bag lock and cap badges – a standard one and special shiny brass one for parades, I'll keep the postcard and photo with them.

Cliff thought the upside down stamp could be a coded message, and with a little research we've found that it could mean "I love you" and is a convention often used by soldiers during wartime.


  1. How very special ! For Veterans Day I would like to do a post with my fathers dog tags from WWII.Enjoyed your post today !!!!U

  2. Lovely post to read on Battle of Britain Sunday.

  3. Aren't you glad they weren't thrown away? Being a hoarder has its merits.
    I enjoyed that. Poor Ern..we can only imagine what it must have been like for those young men.

  4. Celia, this is indeed very cool... I love this kind of history and the hand written element is fab... I always think it adds a touch of personality to your own personal history... I have many hand written recipes from my mum and grandma's and I truly treasure them. lovely post.

  5. I love looking through old photographs and things of my grandparents'. Nannie and Papa, in my eyes, seemed so glamorous and part of a world that doesn't seem quite 'real' to me, so it's nice to have a tangible link to their lives before I, or even my mother, existed.

  6. It is almost unimaginable what that generation went through.

  7. Fabulous bit of history. That pier is stellar... what a portal into another world - good or bad. Funny thing I wondered first... why pencil?

  8. Celia,
    What a lovely memento to be given and what a tender story to accompany it. Lesley

  9. What a lovely post - thank you for sharing.

  10. What a lovely story and how fabulous that Ern made it back home. Lucy x

  11. Hi there Magic. I just discovered your website and blog via Elizabeth (Welsh Hills Again) - spotted the word "linocut" in one of your comments and knew I had to pay you a visit. Your work is truly lovely - I am an artist of sorts and did block printing for a bit, and lived in Japan, so drawn to your work from several directions. Loved this post about Ern and was so glad to hear he survived the war. - Frith

  12. Fantastic slice of history. Thank you for your blog visit! Lizzie x

  13. I loved this one and was so glad to see Frith here before me. What a lovely interconnected world the blog world is!

  14. I used to collect old postcards and still have a few special ones I saved, all of them with a written message on the back. These really fire the imagination and have been the basis for a couple of short stories I had published.

  15. Hello! I popped over from Planet penny and got totally engrossed in your post! What a beautiful story and such special memories, I have to say that I'm glad to hear than Ern got home alive and had a wife and family.... so many sad stories from that time, so it's nice to hear one that ended not so tragically... thank you for sharing such a special thing!

  16. your postcard is addressed to Willingham, Cambs.
    I was brought up in Willingham until the age of 7 years.... I remember Green Street, we lived at 11 Newington Road and used to peddle about the village on our bikes.
    I now live in Herefordshire, very different countryside, very beautiful also, but rolling enclosed agricultural land not flat like the fens with the 'huge' sky!


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