This year, 2014, is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, the war to end all wars. I thought you might like to see how WWI was depicted in postcards of the era. I found most of the cards you’ll see below at estate sales but there are four cards, all advertisements for the Farmers State Bank of Inman, Kansas, which I purchased from an antique store in McPherson, Kansas. I love antique stores!
WWI in Pictures – A Shot in the Arm
My first postcard shows new recruits at the Naval Training Station at Great Lakes, Illinois, getting their shots. The message on the back is very telling.
“Hello Boy how you was? I’m fine and dandy. I forgot to tell you to tell Lula good bye but I guess it will be alright. The other side of this card is some of what we got today. One of the boys fainted but I feel fine. you can get my address from the folks so good bye.” The card is dated May 17, 1918, six months before the end of the war.
WWI in Pictures – A One Star Flag Hanging on the Front Porch
I love this second postcard – with just a little imagination I can easily see this flag hanging over the front porch steps of my great grandmother’s house in Lincoln, Kansas, and my great grandmother waving good bye to my great Aunt Ila as Ila leaves for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and eventually Australia during WWII.
The next group of cards shows the U. S. Army in various types of training before they were sent overseas. If you look closely you’ll be able to tell that there is a difference between the first and last card of this series and the four cards in the middle. The four middle cards are larger and were not printed as postcards. They are advertisements for the Farmers State Bank of Inman, Kansas, with one side featuring an ad and the other depicting a patriotic scene of the time. Bank personnel addressed and sent out these cards to their customers, probably as reminders of the services available at the bank. Each card has a different advertisement but I’ve included only one of the ads as an example. The cards are displayed to show the types of training that occurred when new recruits entered the army.
The message on the postcard depicted below reads: ” Dear Sister: Will drop you a line. I am in camp at Camp Lewis Wash, 363 Inf. Co. F. How are all of you? I am will (sic) and having a good time. Your Brother, W. F.” The postmark is October 19, 1917. The postcard below is entitled simply “Company Front” and appears to show soldiers in drill practice.
WWI in Pictures – Practice
WWI in Pictures – Firing from the Skirmish Line
WWI in Pictures – Light Field Artillery
WWI in Pictures – Cavalry Scouting
WWI in Pictures – An Early Ambulance
This next postcard is particularly interesting, I think. It’s titled “U. S. Soldiers on the March” but there’s nothing on the back to explain whether the picture is supposed to show American troops on U. S. or foreign soil. I studied this picture for a long time and finally decided that it depicts U. S. troops on American soil, marching from their camp, probably to a train station. You’ll notice that the troops are carrying duffel bags and bed rolls but no guns or ammunition. And if you look closely you’ll see the the man on the left side, second row from the front is not carrying anything. Neither are the three men on the right, and the man on the far right appears to be walking with a cane.
WWI in Pictures – On the March
The next post card, also blank on the back, shows a moving night scene of troops preparing to engage in battle. I wonder what happened to the person who bought this card?
WWI in Pictures – night fighting
I wish I was more knowledgeable about the uniforms of French and German troops in WWI. I don’t know the nationality of the man depicted in the postcard below. There is writing on the back, in French or German script – very hard to make out – and I barely get by in English so I have no idea what the message is. Please, if you recognize the nationality of the man, or can translate the message, let me know and I’ll put it on my blog.
My last postcard is one of my favorites. It depicts a U. S. Army soldier returning home from war. Parents, sweethearts, wives – this type of postcard must have been the kind that everyone was waiting for.
WWI in Pictures – returning home
For detailed information about upcoming events commemorating the Great War Centenary in the U. S. and around the world, go to the excellent website www.greatwar.co.uk
There you’ll find a detailed list of events for several countries around the world, information about research projects and ceremonies, other web sites, amazing photos and much more.