National Army Museum reveals festive mail from trenches with WWI Christmas card

By Culture24 Reporter | 10 December 2012
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A photo of a message from an early 20th century card saying merry christmas
Embroidered Christmas postcard, sent to Ada by Holly Chrismas (December 15 1916)© National Army Museum

A set of postcards sent to a “Darling Sweetheart” from the trenches of the First World War reveal some of the solace a soldier in the trenches found at Christmas through his letters to family and loved ones.

Museums tend to provide plenty of visitors with cards during the festive season. The National Army Museum, though, has received a sackful from the grandson of the festively named Holly Chrismas and his sweetheart Ada Manley, bolstered by the couple’s tendency to exchange several letters and postcards each week.

A photo of a handwritten letter from a soldier in black ink on white paper
© National Army Museum
On his Christmas card, aptly decorated with holly, Chrismas wished Manley “every joy” during “Xmas”, leaving “fondest love and kisses” from “Your Only Boy”.

Other affectionate dispatches from the solider of the 1st Royal Dragoons and King’s Shropshire Light Infantry were signed “With tons of love and kisses”.

“Farewell pet, be good, fondest love and heaps of kisses,” he wrote in another.

The couple married in Southwark at the end of 1917. Chrismas survived his wartime duties during which he rose through the ranks to become an officer in The Machine Gun Corps, staying in the Army until the 1920s.

His festive message is lined with silver holly and red berries, typifying the impressive handicraft in cards sent by soldiers from the frontline during the war.

High demand called for machine production in some cases, although experts believe that women – possibly refugees in the war-stricken areas of Belgium and France – carried out much of the nimble-fingered work.

Curators are hoping visitors will gain inspiration from the cards at the Museum’s Templer Study Centre and through an online catalogue at nam.ac.uk.
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