Postcard from Bulford Camp: “A Soldiers Verse Letter to his Children”
The following has been kindly donate by The Army Children Archive:
This lovely postcard sent from a soldier at Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain, to his children in Sussex, shows the heartbreaking lyrics of a song from a soldier to his children.
“FORGET-ME-NOT” is printed in the top left-hand corner of this pale-lilac-coloured postcard, which bears a pencilled scribble in the centre, while “LONGING FOR YOU.” appears in the bottom right-hand corner.
A line of music, at the centre of which has been depicted a cherub and lyre, is the only decorative element. Five verses below, headed:
‘To my Dear Little “Chicks”
A Soldier’s Verse Letter to his children.’
Read as follows:
‘My dear little Chicks I’m thinking of YOU,
And dear Mother throughout the long day;
And wonder at times how you’re getting on,
While your Daddy’s so far away.
Now, be good children, and don’t worry Mummy,
Then when I come home again on “leave;”
My “Kit Bag” I’ll fill with Toys and Good Things,
Like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
Now, tell dear Mummy, I’d like to have,
A photo of you all––as you are;
Just to cheer me up while “doing my bit.”
Though the distance between us is far.
I dreamt last night I was home again,
With you and Mother so dear;
But at early dawn the Buglers blew
“Reveille” in tones loud and clear.
FORGET-ME-NOT, my thoughts are of YOU,
While marching or from drill set free;
My loving thoughts for ever turn,
To Home––and Dear Ones––far from me.’
‘From ………….’ has been printed in the bottom left-hand corner, but the sender has not filled in his name.
The postmark on the reverse tells us that it was posted in Bulford [Wiltshire] on 26 April 1915. The recipient’s name and address has been pencilled below that:
‘Mrs C Duke
The message reads:
Just a line in hope it will find you all quite well as it leaves me to [sic] at present. What lovely weather we are having. Hope everything is going on all right at home do not be surprised [?] me come in at any time, I am still working in the cookhouse don’t seem to have any more news so will close with love from Charles’.
A search of FreeBMD reveals that Charles Duke married May I. Drew in the June quarter of 1913 (Cuckfield 2b 329) – Cuckfield then being in Sussex, and now in West Sussex. Ancestry.co.uk indicates that they had two children: Eric C Duke, whose birth was registered in the July quarter of 1913 at East Grinstead (2b 239); and Winifred M Duke, whose birth was registered in the April quarter of 1915, again in East Grinstead (2b 209). These must have been the ‘Chicks’ whom he had in mind when sending this postcard, assuming that Winifred had been born before 26 April 1915.
You can also find this post on the The Army Children Archive Flickr account in the album ‘The Army Children of the First World War: a Sentimental View’