Postcards

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Dear mother: Inside the First World War brings you the poignant letters sent home by soldiers 

 

Stephen Brown’s tragic story begins with an undated letter from early July 1914, after he enlisted in the regular Army Reserve. The teenager – who claimed to be 17½ – may not have appreciated war was imminent as he talks only of his contrition for an unknown transgression at home.

Stephen appears to join his battalion during the Second Battle of Ypres. The postcards from Rouen may have been his last. His is one of the 58,896 names listed as missing in the Ypres Salient.

5th Bn, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, Winchester.

 

 

Dear Mother

Just a line to let you know that I am getting on all right in the Army. I hope that you are all well as I am myself. I am very sorry for what I done when I was at home and will pay you back when I get some more pay. I like the Army very well for I am going to join the Regulars when I have done my time in the Reserve. Then I shall be able to pay you back for I get 30/- [30 shillings/£1.50] as a bounty. I hope you and Dad will forgive me for what I done when at home. I cannot write no more at present for I have to do some more work. Trusting you will forgive me. I remain your son,

Stephen Brown

 

 

Early July, 1914: He appears to have received forgiveness from his mother by his next letter, written in early August, as it describes other reservists being called up. It dwells on pay but his real concern is his feelings for his family. His love and greetings to his siblings make his naivety and youth very clear.

Dear Mother

Just a line to let you know that I am getting on alright. I hope [you] are the same. I am sorry I did not write before. We are so busy that I have had [no] time. We are confined to barracks so I can not get a stamp… I hope Tommy and Archie Hammond are all right. Give my love to Kitty, Lillie, Maggie, Freddy and Ted. I hope Dad is quite well… I thank you for forgiving me. I know I don’t deserve it. Tell Auntie Tot and Uncle Bob that I am getting on fine. Is Uncle Bob been called up yet? We are calling all our Reservists up and those on leave. This is all at present.

I remain your loving son, Stephen

 

 

August 4-9: Revealing of the fact this soldier is just a young boy, he adds kisses for Mother, Lillie, Kitty, Fred, Maggie, Ted and Dad, sends love again to his aunts and uncles and fills the last page with kisses, as a child might. Stephen expresses hope that he will be home soon for the weekend.

Dear Mother

Just a line to [let] you know that I got the fags on Tuesday. I thank you very much for sending them… They have stopped the weekend passes as there are a lot of absences, but I shall ask the Captain for permission to come on [a] pass. We are going to the front on the 19 of November. Dear mother, do not worry about me for by God’s help I shall come home well. Give my love to Lillie, Kitty and Freddie and tell him I will come and see him by and by. You will receive 3/0 shilling from me and the same from the War Office which will make six all together. Give my love to all… This is all at present.

So goodbye from your loving son, Steve

 

 

November: The process of mobilisation continues and, after moving to Sheerness in November, Stephen is sent to join the 4th Battalion, which had returned from India to join the British Expeditionary Force in France. Shortly before his departure, Stephen writes a cheerful and positive letter.

Dear Mother

Just a line to let you know that I am alright. I am enjoying myself… I will soon be home.

Love from Steve

 

 

December 13: The 4th Battalion arrives in France. Stephen is at the front. He sends a postcard home, still enthusiastic about being in the Army.

Dear Mother

Just a line to let you know that I am quite well. I am for the front on Tuesday. But if you write to the Commanding Officer and say I am only seventeen it will stop me from going. Get it here before Tuesday for I cannot get a pass to come and see you. Don’t forget.

From Stephen

 

 

April 1915: The trail goes cold until April 6 1915 when Stephen says he is soon leaving hospital, apparently having fallen sick. But he is now to re-join the 4th Battalion. Shaken by his earlier experiences, he appeals to his mother.

Mother

Just left for France

Stephen

 

 

 

April: Perhaps his mother wrote too late, or did not write at all. No letter was apparently received. His next card is marked ‘‘On Active Service’’.

Dear Mother

Just a line to let you know that I arrived quite safe. I hope you are quite well as it leaves me the same. Give my love to all at home.

From your ever loving son,

Stephen

 

 

April 30: In a couple of days he is cheerful again. From the base camp in Rouen en route to rejoin the 4th Battalion, he sends a postcard.

 

Dear Mother

Just a line to let you know that I sent you all a photo of myself outside a tent door with two of my mates. Hope you will get them safe. Hoping you are in the best of health as I am myself. Goodbye for the present. I remain yours truly,

Stephen

 

 

May: After one more card from Rouen, he returned to the 4th Battalion. On May 4 he was mortally wounded, his body being discovered six days later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repérer les phrases et les formules utilisées pour

 

1- Commencer une lettre

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2- Demander des nouvelles/ espérer que tout le monde va bien

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3- Dire qu'on va bien / qu'on est en bonne santé

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4- Dire qu'on ne peut pas écrire plus car.../c'est tout pour le moment

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5- Dire qu'on est désolé de ne pas avoir écrit avant

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6- Dire qu'on n'a pas eu le temps

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7- Passer le bonjour/son amitié etc aux amis ,aux proches..

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8- Etre appelé (sous les drapeaux)

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9- Dire au revoir – formules de fin

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10- formules de fin

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En vous appuyant sur ces exemples ainsi que sur la lettre d'Arthur , écrivez une courte lettre à vos parents en leur disant où vous êtes et ce que vous faites.

Attention à la présentation !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Côté britannique

 

" Postcards "

 

 

Newhaven’s primary role was the transportation of supplies and munitions. Some 17,000 crossings of the Channel took place and more than six million tons of supplies were carried to the French coastal ports. 

 

A relatively small number of soldiers were stationed at Newhaven including one Alfred Arthur who wrote this postcard back to his sister Nell before heading to France. The postcard only arrived at its intended destination ninety-four years later when his closest living relatives were tracked down by a historian. 

 

Alfred Arthur died in 1918, aged 22, a little over a month before the war ended. Valley Camp*, where he spent 14 weeks, was dismantled after the war. While some training trenches still survive, many of the huts* were auctioned off* to local farmers who used them as chicken houses. 

 

Location: Newhaven Fort, Newhaven, Sussex BN9 9DS 

Image shows front and reverse of the postcard, courtesy of Brian Buxton & Angela Finch 

 

HELP

 

Valley Camp : Training Centre for the soldiers in Newhaven before they were sent to France. There were barbed wire* and trenches similar to what they would find on the Western Front.

 

Barbed wire : barbelés

 

huts : cabanes/abris

 

auctioned off : vendues aux enchères

 

QUESTIONS

 

1- What county is Newhaven situated in ?........................

 

2- What was the main role of Newhaven ?..........................

 

3- How many crossings are mentioned in the text ?......................

 

4- How many supplies were carried across to France ?........................

 

5- Guess the meaning of supplies.....................................

 

6- Who posted the postcard ?..................................

 

7- Who did he send it to ?.......................

 

8- How many years later did it arrive ?.................................

 

9- Who found the relatives of Alfred ?...................................

 

10- When did Alfred die ? How old was he ?..................................

 

11- How long did he spend in Newhaven before being sent to France ?........

 

Bonus : Think ! Can you find and write the names of his relatives ?.............

 

 

GOOD LUCK !

I - Listen and answer the questions

 

1- Who was Alfred for Brian Buxton and his sister Angela ?..........................

2 - Had they heard of him before they received the postcard ?....................

- Who was the only male relative* in the family they had heard of ?.................

3- What do they say about the condition of the postcard ?.......................

4- about the writing ?.....................

5- Why was Alfred sent to Newhaven ?.........................

 

6- Where was he sent next ?............

7- What was the name of the training camp in Newhaven ?................. …...........

8- What could you find there ?...............................

9- Why/what was it for ?......................................

 

10 - Was it unusual for soldiers to cross from Newhaven ?...

- Where did most of the soldiers cross from ? Name one port (2 if you can)................ …...................

Bonus : Who crosses nowadays ?.........................

*Relative = un parent/personne de la famille

 

II – Listen again and fill in the gaps.

 

D....... Nell,

J...... a ….................. to let you …........ I haven't forgotten you. On the other …......... you will ….......our orders for next …...... P....... me ! I shall ….............all your.............. ! Drop me a ….......

From ….......... Alfred

 

GOOD LUCK