The Daily Postcard No. 14

Well that’s not very interesting, is it?  Bear with me, though.  You may find the rest more entertaining.

Now that’s more fun, eh?  The reverse shows it was posted on 29th May 1915, although the card itself has a bit of a pre-war look about it.  Nonetheless, here we have son keeping father on the straight and narrow, father being Private George Paton (note the ‘Ge’ on the first address line), Royal Army Medical Corps.

During the Great War, Shorncliffe Camp, down on the south coast near Folkestone, and originally established in 1794, saw tens of thousands of troops passing through on their way to France – ‘the gateway to the trenches’, I have seen it called.  Training camps with practice trenches were established there, along with medical facilities, and there’s a military cemetery which I am pretty sure is still open, and has, I believe, three Victoria Cross holders buried within.  The Gurkhas used the camp until very recently, and may still do, as a quick Google search revealed what appears to be a current phone number.

And on the reverse we find the same George Paton writing to his daughter Maggie, also in May 1915.  Note that ‘Shorncliffe’ at the top of the card (below) is overprinted, allowing this same card to be distributed to numerous locations by the simple expedient of adding a different name…

…and sticking in a different set of photos.  This is, of course, an old seaside postcard trick.  And it’s not as if the British postcard manufacturers suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the summer of 1914.  It was during the Victorian era, due entirely to the expansion of the railways, that coastal towns became holiday resorts, and as men and women packed the trains to the coast, the postcard industry grew.  By the early 20th Century the cards themselves, if not showing scenic views, more often than not featured the humorous or bawdy images that the Edwardians seemed to love (and which would become a British seaside tradition),…

…until 1914, when, with the outbreak of war, the bawdy bloke on the beach morphed into a British Tommy, in this example a bawdy kilted Scottish soldier (reverse below).  The war, in effect, delivered the postcard manufacturers a vast new marketplace right on their doorsteps, as thousands of soldiers, all desperate to write home, descended on military camps all across the country, and they knew exactly how to take advantage of it.

It so happens that this card is also from George Paton to his daughter, and it is entirely possible that we shall meet George, Jack & Maggie again, at some future point, should you wish to.

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8 Responses to The Daily Postcard No. 14

  1. Sid from Down Under says:

    Another good post thanks – Interesting you describe the growth of the postcard industry with Victorian trains to seaside resorts and then WW1 introducing a new marketplace – we’ve not escaped that phenomenon over later years. Think cylinder music records then shellac 78RPM records with next vinyl 45s and 33 1/3 RPM which morphed into cassette tapes then CDs and mp3 with USB thumb drives, Internet and streaming etc …. similar for motion pictures … WW1 postcards must have been the cause of fast-tracking entertainment invention and marketing … see what you’ve caused MF … my grey matter to work overtime … LoL

  2. Nick Kilner says:

    Fantastic! Would be really interesting to see a then and now comparison with that set of photos.
    I actually found the initial card very interesting. To my mind there is an almost dark psychology behind the choice of words. On the one hand it is phrased in such a way as to play on a mans ego, essentially saying ‘if you’re a real man you can go to sea for years and your girl will wait for you’, and on the other it plays to the girlfriend as ‘he’s doing his bit for his country, don’t you dare think about seeing someone else whilst he’s away’.
    Join the navy! No excuses 😉

  3. Steve Monk says:

    Thank you Magic Fingers, interesting .. Shorncliffe is a mere 15-20 minutes drive away from me. I have to confess that even though a relative or two of mine passed through the barracks during WW1 I have never visited. I remember the Gurkhas being there and after they left my mates security company looked after the place.
    I was under the impression it is all closed now, but you have me wondering.
    When we are all released back to freedom I shall have a drive down and see what can see. Thanks again Sir.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Heh heh heh, I do believe that the trap I set for you has worked perfectly! In that I was certainly aware that this is your neck of the woods, and I reckoned if you hadn’t visited, you might add it to your list. I shall definitely be making a day trip once we are set free. The Government announced the camp closure in 2016, I think – but only one barracks (Richmond?), which either means that was the one remaining barracks, and the camp has closed/will close, or there are other barracks still in use. I do know that some of the buildings are listed. And the military cemetery looks stunning.

  4. Steve Monk says:

    You may find this interesting or you may have already found it on-line.
    https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1417336

    • Magicfingers says:

      Cheers Steve. And I found this: ‘The First Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles is based at Shorncliffe Army Camp, near Folkestone in Kent as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade’. Seems they are indeed still there.

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