Christmas at the Front – 1918 French Silk Postcard

Christmas was a particularly difficult time for soldiers who were away from home, many for the first time in their lives. While the Christmas Truce of 1914 is well documented it was only one of five Christmases spent in the trenches. Letters and parcels from home, always eagerly anticipated, had even more meaning at this time of year. Most battalions made an extra special effort to provide their men with a Christmas dinner and if possible a brief rest.

1918Xmas002This is the first of twelve Christmas at the Front blog posts that will feature cards, menus and other ephemera from the First World War. First up is this beautiful embroidered French postcard from a soldier named James. These designs, embroidered by French and Belgian women then sent to factories for mounting, were extremely popular with soldiers and provided much-needed income to families whose livelihoods had been destroyed by war. This variation was constructed with two pieces of embroidered silk mounted on card that formed a small pocket that could contain a small message. In this instance the soldier has written his message on the back of the card and enclosed it with a letter.

There are hundreds of different embroidered designs, many featuring flowers, flags, regimental crests and a variety of greetings. This card has replaced patriotic sentiments with a simple Christmas greeting and a wonderfully embroidered motif.

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