Friday, 13 December 2013

Festive Fridays - Christmas Cards

Company Christmas card (D/DLI 2/9/374)
D/DLI 2/9/374 Company Christmas card
In last week’s blog post I wrote about the embroidered postcards.  At Christmas time, some companies, battalions, or even brigades, produced their own Christmas cards.  Sometimes these were of a basic design with just the relevant insignia printed on the front, or they might have featured a serious image of a soldier.  Other times, they were humorous ones. 

Many soldiers passed the time by drawing.  As well as sketches in letters and diaries, the Durham Light Infantry collection has several sketchbooks by soldiers such as Private Thomas McCree and Captain Robert Mauchlen.  Two army chaplains, Reverend C. Lomax and Reverend J.A.G. Birch, also produced drawings and sketches both prior and during the war.

The two examples of Christmas cards here were drawn by Second Lieutenant Gerald Palmer, 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, who had been an art student.  The card of B Company, 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry has faded a lot but shows 1915 represented by the old soldier, his back bent and his beard long, leaving the trench while the one representing 1916 comes in upright and fresh-faced.  This is under the glare of a sun wearing a German Pickelhaube, the sentiment wishes the recipient a ‘D.L.I. (t) ful Xmas’.  The card of the 151st Infantry Brigade (of with 9th Battalion, DLI were part of) shows a German soldier being chased over fields by a British soldier and wishes the recipient ‘a good run for your money in the new year’.  

Brigade Christmas card (D/DLI 7/776/36)
D/DLI 7/776/36 Brigade Christmas card
Both cards were for Christmas 1915 and wishing a good 1916, however, the new year did not bring happiness for Second Lieutenant Gerald Palmer, on 8 February 1916, under German attack, he had his jaw broken in several places by flying shrapnel.  He did survive the war though, relinquishing his commission in 1919 due to ill health caused by injuries.  

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