Christmas is a time of year when our world sparkles and shines. Our Christmas Trees are filled to the brim with baubles and tinsel; our mantle pieces are weighed down with wreathes and cards and of course the tree is surrounded by an assortment of beautifully wrapped presents filled with surprises to bring joy on Christmas Day. However, as we gear up for this season of joy, spare a thought for our ancestors who spent four Christmas seasons marred by war.
During my explorations behind the cupboard doors I stumbled upon four cards that brought many questions to mind. William Lyons sent them to his family for Christmas 1915. No doubt it was a year of worry for his family from the moment he was sent with his regiment to the Dardanelles. Word of the many lives that were lost during the campaign would have added fuel to their worry.
Fortunately, William was evacuated from the Peninsula due to illness and spent Christmas 1915 in the safety of the London General Hospital.
I can only imagine how my Great Grandmother felt when she received the following cards in the mail. Unlike many families who were left grieving the loss of their much loved sons, husbands, uncles and fathers, my family had reason to celebrate. Their husband and Dad had survived his first year away.
The above card was written to my Great Grandmother, which I find quite touching. Note the strips of Egyptian postage stamps that are still inside the card.
Note that there is one card missing – written to his son Kevin who was 10 at the time.
For the families who endured the Great War, the only means of communication was by letter or telegram. There was no internet or mobile phones for soldiers to alert loved ones day by day of their whereabouts or state of health. Patience was vital. I am sure that these cards represented the hope that my family was craving for. He was alive – at the time of writing that is. That knowledge would have been the best Christmas gift of all.