British Postcards of the First World War, Peter Doyle

British Postcards of the First World War, Peter Doyle

The First World War came at the end of a period known as the Golden Age of the Postcard, which lasted from 1902 until 1918 (when the cost of sending a postcard was doubled). During the First World War the postcard was the easiest way for a serving soldier to communicate with their families back in Britain, taking less time to write than a full letter - the war also saw the appearance of the pre-printed 'list' postcard, with a series of options that could be deleted at will, a format much parodied since.

The postcards included in this book cover the entire period of the war, from the initial enthusiasm of 1914 to the grim reflections of 1918, and reflect the changing nature of the war, with early cards focusing on the experiences of the Kitchener army in its training camps, while later cards poke fun at the randomness of conscription. The technological changes of the war are reflected, with the tank appearing on later post cards.

The cards fall into two broad overlapping categories - those designed for sale in Britain, and those designed for the men in the trenches. Generally the more sentimental cards would appear to have appealed to the first group, while the men in the trenches were perhaps more realistic. The book is lavishly illustrating, allowing the reader to get a good idea of the tone of these postcards, making it clear for instance that the photographic cards, mostly printed from official pictures, were more sanitised than many of the illustrated humorous cards.

This is an interesting look at one of the major publishing phenomena of the First World War, and helps us to understand how our ancestors in 1914-1918 saw the events that had engulfed their lives.

The Picture Postcard Goes to War
Preparing for War
'In the Trenches'
Letters Home
The Home Front
Further Reading

Author: Peter Doyle
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 64
Publisher: Shire
Year: 2010

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