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Post card: a wartime sweetheart in Annahilt

This Virtual Museum post is by Cameron Gilchrist, a student at the South Eastern Regional College, Lisburn. He is on work experience placement at the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum. Cameron is from Annahilt and found this post card in our collection very interesting.

Post card - photo

Field Service Post Card, 12 September 1917 (LMILC.2004.470, purchased 2004)

This post card is from a soldier serving in the First World War. He signed his name with the initials ‘W.H.M.’ and sent it to Miss Lizzie Graham who lived at a house called ‘Fruitvale’, near Annahilt, Hillsborough, Co. Down. Perhaps this was his sweetheart? If so, it may seem odd that the post card had little to say, simply that ‘I am quite well’ and that ‘I have received your letter dated 3/9/17’.

Post card - photo

Reverse of Field Service Post Card

The reason for this lack of detail about the soldier’s circumstances and how he felt was due to the nature of the post card itself. It was a Field Service Post Card, which was designed for speedy delivery, sometimes arriving within days. Other post cards and letters had to go through a lengthy censoring process to ensure that, if obtained by the Germans, the correspondence would not reveal anything that could potentially compromise the British Army. This soldier did not even feel that he could write his full name! The cards came with pre-printed sentences, and the soldiers deleted whichever were not relevant. This gave their loved ones a quick update on their situation, which may have provided them relief to know that they were unharmed or were at least being attended to if sick or wounded.

Despite this, it must have been very difficult for the soldier to resist writing something else on the card to express his feelings. If he did, he risked the card not being delivered because he would have ignored the warning, ‘If anything else is added the post card will be destroyed’. However, the soldier indicated that he would follow up with a letter ‘at first opportunity’. I wonder what he wrote to Lizzie Graham from Annahilt?

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