Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source4
Letters and postcards sent home, 1915-18
(Catalogue ref: RAIL 253/516)
  • Postcards were issued to soldiers to allow them to quickly and easily get in touch with their families and to reassure them that they were well if they had been in a battle.
  • For much of the war, British soldiers spent a lot of time resting or carrying out relatively safe duties like repairing trenches, moving supplies or cleaning kit. The British Army had welfare officers whose job it was to make sure that units spent the minimum possible time in the firing line. On average, a soldier would spend 4-5 days per month in the firing line, in shifts of 2-3 days.
  • During periods of rest or recovery, soldiers could (and did) write long letters home. However, during periods of action they would only be able to write short postcards.
  • The British commanders recognised the importance of morale among the troops. They also knew that mail from home improved morale. There was a very efficient system of postage for letters, parcels and even items of equipment. In the early stages of the war, soldiers would often receive coats, boots and even sniper rifles in the post from home!
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