Letters and cards
Letters, cards and postcards provide an invaluable and deeply moving record of the Great War. A number of the surviving cards sent from the Front are those beautifully embroidered by local women and sold to soldiers, often at Christmas time.The fact that so many of these were sent home and survive clearly demonstrates the importance of keeping in touch with home to those on the frontline.
The scope of surviving letters and postcards was certainly not restricted to what was happening in the trenches with, for example, letters home from nurses often capturing the sheer fatigue of their day-to-day commitments. It is often the understatement in these letters that hits home to today’s reader, even taking account of the censorship at the Front. However many also have a forced cheeriness about them, clearly aiming to save the feelings of their loved ones at home. The importance of home, and also of the mundane, amongst all this chaos is demonstrated in the transcrption of the message shown on this page.
“Somewhere in France May 8th 1918
My dear Sister
I am always kicking about through this Country and keeping my health fine. I suppose you will be busy spring cleaning. I do a bit of digging to just now as I am a sanitary man. It is a very warm day this so I am enjoying it. Had a clean shift yesterday so I have more peace (from lice?). Tell Bessie I am in the pink and hopping to get my leave soon. I remain yr loving brother George”
While, by definition, much correspondence would be intensely private, there are excellent examples of letters from the Front being published in local newspapers on a very regular basis.School magazines were also used by those serving to keep in touch with their contemporaries and those at home, the Milne’s Institution Magazine playing such a role. Examples of some of the letters from 1915 and 1916 are available in the attached pdfs.
Of particular interest in Moray are those letters from "Old Boys" of the Aberlour Orphanage who wrote to those who had cared for them. These were truly letters "home", because, for these men, the Orphanage was their family. Some examples may be seen in the attached pdf.
There are, no doubt, many more letters relevant to Moray and its people during that time. Moray’s War would encourage families to make these available as a valuable record.