french postcards 9
Saturday 29 January 1916
Your uncle who kisses you
My dear niece
As you have seen pictures of the place where Edouard is, I am sending you another one that you will be able to put with the others. All these will show you the terrible damages of the present war that brings us all so much suffering. Today I had news from Albert who tells me that he thinks that he will be sent to the back to use his trade of baker and that will be better for him than where he is now. For myself I am in good health and I wish that my card finds you the same. Waiting to come to see you in a few days.
Note: Soldiers with useful skills such as baking, cooking, etc were sometimes lucky to be spared the front line.
Pas de Calais
Denville 28 June 191..
I just need to thank you for the kindness you have shown towards me; for your willingness to send me your news, a thing that gave me great pleasure as one is very pleased to be able to receive from time to time news from the county you have had to leave behind; parents, friends and for such a long time, to defend the sacred soil of France against the invasion of these barbarians and to protect the little and young France that is not able to defend itself.
Although I do not have the honour to know you, I am very pleased to have had a chance to know you through my friend Justin as I can see in your words that you have the heart of a good little French woman. I have not had any news from Justin for the past few days but I hope that he is still in perfect health. It is the case for myself and I hope that it is the same for you all. In the wait of the happiness of deliverance receive meanwhile my dear Helene, as well as all your parents, my best wishes and my most respectful salutations. Yours always [name?]
Note: It was not uncommon for young soldiers to correspond with girls they had never met. They were friends of friends (as is the case here) or sometimes complete strangers. In 1915 French newspapers launched columns where soldiers could put their names forward for adoption by a "marraine de guerre" (war godmother or female pen pal). This was to recognize the need of the soldiers for moral and psychological support through letters, parcels and little presents. This also, of course, leads to a certain amount of epistolary flirting which was moral boosting for the soldiers. Some soldiers married their marraines de guerre at the end of the war. Others were sometimes left disappointed when they finally met their marraines and realized that they had been corresponding with an old unattractive spinster!
It is interesting to note that the soldier writing to Helene has fully absorbed the patriotic rhetoric of the time: the violation of the sacred soil of France by Barbarians and the need to defend the young France. WW1 Postcards often show babies: this is not only because they are cute but also a powerful reminder of what soldiers are fighting for - to protect the innocent.
Date on postal stamp August 1905
This is to have the honour to tell you that you are beautiful and if you could allow me to admire your beauty from far away, without in any way impeding on your actions, I would be delighted, as the only thought of it makes my heart jump inside my chest. Do not try to know who I am. You would not be able to remember my name or what I look like although you do see me from time to time. The one who marvels at your sight without showing it.
Note: From a 1905 stalker to his victim? Or a sweet note from a young inexperienced admirer to the object of his desire?
Mademoiselle Marie Foucher
Au bois de Messe
Only the lack of money or supplies will stop the war and the belligerent states are not there yet. Receive from a friend all his most sincere kisses.