Saturday, 19 November 2016

The silk postcard that spans the ocean

Now I have been meaning to write about this postcard for a long time.

It belongs to my old friend David Harrop and comes from his huge collection of memorabilia from both world wars.

Embroidered silk postcards predate the Great War and continued into the 1920s but they seem to come into their own during the conflict.

Many were made in France and Belgium and were sent back from troops serving on the Western Front.

Some carry sentimental messages or references to towns behind the lines, but many use regimental badges and come also with a selection of the flags of the allies.

And this one from RMS Melita is a favourite of mine.

The ship did the Canada run from the end of the war through the 1920s before being sold in 1935 to an Italian shipping company and was scuttled off the Libyan coast in 1941.

All of which has prompted the start of a search to see what the connection might be between the Melita and British Home Children.

I know other ships of the shipping line were involved and it may be that there are people who can confirm that one of their BHC travelled the ocean on board the Melita.

And in the course of starting the investigation I came across an excellent blog on Canadian War Brides of the First World War which pointed to the fact that  our ship was involved which offers new  insights into the connection between Britain and Canada.*

All of which brings me back to my own great uncle who arrived in Canada in 1914 only to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force the following year and find himself by degree on the Western Front via his home country.

It was a journey replicated by many other British Home Children some of whom are buried here in Manchester having died of their wounds in the local military hospital.

They lay in graves besides those of British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers and some at least feature in the new book on Manchester and the Great War.**

Location; Britain, Canada

Pictures; embroidered silk postcards, RMS Melita, 1918, To My Daughter, 1918, and Souvenir from France, 1917, from the collection of David Harrop

* Canadian War Brides of the First World War

**Manchester Remembering 1914-18 by Andrew Simpson will be published by the History Press in February 2017

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