french postcards 16
Legend: for France, for the motherland, for God
12 July 1915
My beloved Catherine
Health is good. I am happy to learn from your card of the 7th of the current month that this is also true at home. I have just received the parcel dated of the 7th and I thank you very much. It was very good. In the next one you will put a stone for the lighter. Instead of cigarettes in the future always put tobacco; it lasts longer. We have been staying in a village for the last month which means that it is impossible at the moment to send you back the parcel which I told you several times I will send as soon as I can. Let us have courage and patience, wait with good hope this beautiful day when we will find our happiness again. God will protect us and our wish will come true. Compliments to maman and the parents. Big kisses from the bottom of my heart to […] Your spouse, Jacques
Note: Soldiers relied heavily on wine and tobacco to keep their spirits up. They received rations of both as part of their military supplies. However the tobacco they were given was not always of very good quality (often mixed with tree leaves or even rhubarb leaves) and not of sufficient quantity. Soldiers preferred tobacco to cigarettes as the pipe lasted longer and could also be used to warn up your hands in winter. Tobacco, like wine, was used to kill boredom and escape from the sad realities of the war. Among objects that have survived from the first world war, pipes, tobacco boxes and lighters are some of the most common.
On the use of tobacco during the first war see:
Legend: The war in Lorraine. Limey- Ruins
1 January 1916
I send you this card that shows the village where I am. It is all ruins and the canon thunders day and night. The ruins of the walls are shaking every moment of the day. My thought is turned towards you thinking about the anniversary of the day that united us- how sad and painful to spend this day again away from home. Let us hope that God will allow us soon to be reunited again and to enjoy great happiness.
Note: This message stands out as postcards from husbands to their wives usually tend to be reassuring and oblivious of the dangers of the war. This postcard no doubt would have been painful to the poor wife (Catherine) although the central and ultimate message is one of love and hope.
24 April 1918
As I am waiting for the soup to arrive, I am writing these few lines to you to let you know that I am still fine and that I wish the same for you. Moral is always excellent. Today we were cleaning our guns with the comrades when all of the sudden big shells (marmites) started to come down about 200 meters from us. You can imagine that we moved quickly and went right down into the shelter. That did not last; just a few shells at the most and then […] restarted. I am running out of space; I will continue tomorrow. Anyway I don’t know what to say to reassure you. I kiss you very warmly. Louis.
Note: An attempt by a young soldier to show his parents that life on the front was not as dangerous as they might have imagined. This postcard was written in the early spring of 1918, at the beginning of the great German offensive that started in March 1918. The German had reached Chateau-Thierry to the North of Nogent sur Seine (shown on the picture of the postcard) and were pushing towards Paris. Danger was getting very close to this soldier and his parents would have heard of the German offensive through the newspapers and from friends and relatives.
An account of the long-range aerial and artillery bombing of Paris in 1918 can be found in this article:
15 days after my arrival in Morocco- I’ve never looked so ugly on a picture.
Note: Undated postcard - might predate the war. Morocco was the subject of many disputes between Germany and France culminating in the 1905 and 1911 Moroccan crisis, serious diplomatic disputes over colonial rights and influences. This led to a reinforcement of the French military presence in Morocco and many young people were sent there to do their military service which, from 1913, was made compulsory for all men aged 19 years old and had a duration of 3 years (7 August 1913 - loi Barthou- a law that increased the length of compulsory military service from 2 to 3 years and lowered the age of compulsory service from 20 to 19). The increase in length of the compulsory military service came as a response to the need felt by politicians to prepare the country for any eventualities in face of the many mounting tensions between France and Germany.
The postcard is a picture card of the new recruits who have just arrived in Morocco, including our correspondent who does not think that the photo does him justice.
Legend: Since I love you- Since I love you my life is not the same, nothing is sad anymore, nothing exists anymore, except you in my heart
My love, Receive from your dear Francis who never ceases to think about you a million kisses from your dear Francis who loves you for life. My love I send you this card to let you know how much I love you and that I would be happy to hold you tight against my heart like these two charming lovers; my love see you soon I love you for life. Your Francis who thinks about you …
On the side: I love you I adore you for life
Receive my dear the best kisses and caresses from your little Francis who loves you and thinks about you night and day.
Darling write to me quickly as I miss you. Darling see you soon.
My little darling I love you for life.
A million kisses for my little Yvonne whom I love for life.
Note: matching card to card 1 in group 13. People collected postcards and liked to send their correspondents series. There is no date on these postcards and the lovely banality of their content does not allow us to date them. They are literally timeless.