Guns, guns, and more guns. It was a war of artillery such as had never been seen before, and so it should come as no surprise that the awe-inspiring big guns would feature on Great War postcards, such as the British example shown here.
‘Feed the Guns with War Bonds’. This first card was intended to raise money for the National War Savings War Bond Campaign.
‘Our glorious 75’. We saw a couple of cards on which the French eulogised this gun back in the Daily Postcard No. 3,…
…and there’s some eulogising going on here too, if that’s the right word. In the background, explosions show an artillery barrage falling on enemy lines,…
…just as these German cards (above & below) show not only the Army’s impressive artillery pieces, but the result of their firepower in the distance.
More French cards, this one featuring a real photograph of a heavy mortar (reverse below),…
…and this one, aimed at a dual market, featuring an image of a German ‘monster gun’.
And talking of ‘monster guns’, here’s another of the Daily Mail cards, this one showing a British railway-borne example.
And here’s a card of German artillery on manoeuvres in the presence of the Kaiser, the silly sod pointing in entirely the wrong direction……
Silk postcards had been around for a few years before the Great War, but by 1915 they were so popular with the troops that their production became a cottage industry in France, French women painstakingly creating strips of the same design over and over again, up to twenty five per strip, before sending them to the factory for cutting and mounting. Most are greetings or anniversary cards, but some, such as the two featured here, were made for specific regiments or branches of the army, and are the most sought-after today. This first one is a straightforward Royal Garrison Artillery silk card, though nonetheless beautifully made,…
…but this Royal Horse Artillery example is more complex,…
…raising the exquisitely stitched artillery piece revealing a small embossed card (below) hidden inside.
The reverse, dated 14th March 1916, suggests that there weren’t too many of these cards around even back then; apparently these silk cards cost up to three day’s pay for your average soldier during the war. Interestingly, this is one of very few cards I have seen that have the words Post Card in three languages, French, English & Flemish.
Another fascinating assortment of postcards, from the highly factual, to the rather fanciful, through to the somewhat suspect imagery of the one featuring “Suzy” !
It’s important to remember that artillery was by far the biggest killer on the Great War battlefield. Popular memory has it as the machine gun of course, understandably so in many ways.
As mentioned before on here, my Grandfather was a Bombardier in the R.F.A for all four years of the war and judging by the number of R.F.A graves I have seen in the various cemeteries around Ypres and the Somme (the amount of which surprised me I must say) he was as lucky as any to make it through unscathed.
Also as previously mentioned another more distant relative who was in the 1st Rifle Brigade and whose name is on the Menin Gate was killed by what must have been a dawn bombardment one late June morning in 1915 while in the trench by the canal opposite “International Trench” at the very north of the British line which his unit were fated to assault just a couple of weeks later (and which is the subject of another excellent post on this site by MF). Quite why he has no known grave doesn’t really bear thinking about given the cause of his death.
We will remember them.
(Sorry to bring the mood down a tad !)
Most kind Jon! Thank you. When we return to more normal things here at TBN, we shall be visiting some cemeteries where the percentage of artillery burials is thought-provoking, to say the least. It can’t have been easy for the artillery crews, particularly in a battle, when each side would often know the location of the enemy’s guns and would seek them out, but you’ve just got to keep on serving that gun and hope the enemy isn’t too accurate.
My late dad was a Sgt. in the local militia in the 1930’s, which was the 26th Field Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery. One of his comrades was a Sgt., Bill Doohan. Bill’s younger brother was a Private named James.
Anyone know ” Who was James alter ego?”.
I presume he was involved in a lot of “beaming up”?
Aye ! He was. In the pre-war Regimental photo, they were all wearing the old pith helmets.
There is a picture in our high school’s yearbook from 1930 ‘ish that has my late dad and James in the rifle club. Our high school was built in 1922, and had a rifle range in the basement level. Mr. Doohan attended our school’s 75th Anniversary in 1997, and I had a wonderful conversation with him. He was a “gentleman” in the best sense of the word.
Of course, it all comes back to me now…….
That’s fine Jon always interested to hear people’s personal stories.
Love the silk cards so delicate and to think all hand done.
The artillery ones hold no punches the size of some of those cannons are astonishing, the logistics of transporting all that artillery boggles the mind the Germans only had to go across land we had to cross the sea with that lot.
Good point M.