Thursday, 23 July 2015

New book release...

Dear readers,

If you have enjoyed reading my blog posts then you will enjoy reading about the very special postcards I have reserved for this new book. I am pleased to announce the upcoming release of my book "Just to let you know I'm still alive". The title is drawn from the opening line of many handwritten messages made by soldiers on the back of postcards during the First World War. This publication is due in New Zealand bookshops after 1 August.

This book takes the reader on a journey into the colourful world of the picture postcard during World War One when the form of communicating was to mail a postcard with a message on the reverse side to a loved one serving on the battlefields of Europe. They were the emails of yesteryear, the economic way to communicate with family and friends across the miles. When war was declared in 1914, postcards took on a more meaningful purpose on a scale not seen before. Beyond their heart-filled personal messages to and from the battlefront, postcards also became a patriotic and propaganda tool. The Dominion of New Zealand was quick to rally and answer the call to serve King and Country and it was not long before New Zealand publishers were producing original works by New Zealand artists and photographers for the local market. They were cherished as prized possessions for their photographs and art and became collectables in private postcard collections. These wonderful and thought provoking postcards with their handwritten messages give a poignant insight into the life and times in New Zealand during the Great War.

My special thanks to Grantham House Publishing and to all those who have supported me in my research.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Oamaru Peace Celebrations

“Peace Celebrations. Nov 12th 1918. Oamaru.” A real photographic postcard by J.M.B., numbered 25.

This fine view is looking down Thames Street in Oamaru. The grand architectural building with Corinthian columns on its fa├žade to the far left of the picture is the Oamaru Court House. The larger building in the centre is the Opera House.

Mayor Robert Milligan announced in the Oamaru Mail that at the cessation of hostilities a public thanksgiving service would be held in the Opera House on 13 November 1918. With jubilation at the news that war was finally over, the people of Oamaru took to the streets to celebrate and rejoice with as much colour, music and pageantry as they could gather. A procession was formed on Thames Street as shown above, led by the 10th Regimental Band. They were followed by various decorated cars and lorries, Red Cross nurses, Salvation Army and school bands. Many of the Oamaru schoolchildren carried patriotic flags and the popular noise-maker – empty kerosene cans. Note that the street is shared by horse-drawn carts and motor vehicles.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Dance the night away

A real photographic postcard of Allied soldiers from different regiments enjoying a dance with nurses in Paris. 

The message on the back of the card was written by Private Henry Francis Devenish Meares of the New Zealand Medical Corps on 27 March 1918:

“Dear Dad, 
Very many thanks for your tobacco for which I received alright. I have just come back from Paris leave & had a good time. This photo I had taken of a dance at the Army & Navy Club Paris. The 3 dots thus (the mark is seen in the top of the photo border) is me the bottom dot. Writing you a long letter telling of my leave in Paris. 
From H.F.D. Meares.”

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Put down your guns and read

“New Zealanders seated upon a captured anti-tank gun.” A New Zealand War Records official photographic postcard. 

This image was taken at ‘Clapham Junction’ in Belgium on 20 November 1917 by the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Official Photographer Henry Armytage Sanders. It was referenced in Sanders work as photograph H343. Another two of his photographs, H341 and H342 also show New Zealand troops holding a copy of the same publication.

Newspapers, magazines, books, letters and postcards were all welcome as reading material used by troops during recreational time away from the front lines.

The group of men pictured, dressed in battle uniform shows soldiers from the 3rd Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade enjoying a leisurely read of the publication “New Zealand at the Front”.

Left: The cover page of the publicaton "New Zealand at the Front" written and illustrated by New Zealand soldiers during the First World War.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Tug of War 1918

A real photographic postcard of a military tug-of-war competition in England in August 1918. 

Away on leave and far from the sound of guns, these men are taking part in a day of sport and recreation. The back of the postcard reads, “Winning team, C Coy, No.5 OCB, Cambridge”. The team is identified by handwritten names and their nations: McPhee (Australia), Woods (NZ), Burnard (NZ), O’Donohue (Australia), Leahy (NZ), Myers (Australia), Hudson (NZ), Webber (NZ).