Picture Postcards from the Great War

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First World War postcards

This item was posted here on 4th August 2014.

It is a registered cover bearing a date stamp of 4th August 1914. It was mailed by the Belgium Bank Abroad at 2 Bishopsgate, London to an address in Austria - on the first day of the Great War. The cover carries a boxed ‘UNDELIVERABLE L.P.S.’ cachet in purple ink and was stopped by a postal censor from continuing its journey to the continent.

A hundred years ago today, Britain declared war on Germany and also suspended the mail service to enemy countries and potential enemy countries. As the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was allied to Germany, a British postal censor blocked the onward transmission of the letter and would have returned it to the sender. Eight days later Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary too.

The website comprises of four main sections

The story behind a Great War postcard

The story behind a set/group of ww1 postcards

ww1 real photographic postcards

ww1 publications as eBooks

This link will take you to a page that describes and illustrates WW1 postal history.

This link will take you to a page of eBooks relating to prisoners of war and the camps they were in.

This link will take you to a site featuring prisoner of war postcards.


 WW1 real photographic postcards
Click here to view the page on WW1 Real Photographic Postcards
Here is an eBook that outlines the activities of the Y.M.C.A. during the First World War. The book is illustrated with YMCA picture postcards and posters produced during the conflict. Included in the download are three FREE publications about the Associations leaders and activities.

Please click here for
 more details about the YMCA postcards eBook
Interested in the Daily Mail War Postcards?

 See The Daily Mail War Postcards page for an informative new 80-page illustrated digital book (eBook)  about this extraordinary series of 176 First World War picture postcards.

You also receive three FREE eBooks relating to the 'Battle of the Somme' - when you buy The Daily Mail War Postcards eBook.

"For those interested in all aspects of the First World War, particularly visual and contemporary evidence, this eBook collection of pictures, maps and text is an excellent resource. Being able to read newspapers of the period and seeing the cartographic and photographic evidence provides an authentic experience. The official postcards from the Daily Mail will provide, for some, the reminders of a dreadful war that our parents and grandparents were familiar with."

Peter Smith, MA. MEd. C. Geog., Leeds.

eBooks on ww1

Here is a collection of digital copies of WW1 booklets, pamphlets, brochures, leaflets and manuals to downloaded at very low cost (some for just pennies). One or two are quite rare and all are interesting and informative and could contain just the information you are seeking.

The story behind a set/group of ww1 postcards


Each of the links below will take you to a page of ww1 postcards relevant to the link heading.

Picture Postcards from the First

World War 1914-1918

During the Great War, when the only means of communicating news to the masses was by newspapers and weekly illustrated magazines, the ‘war’ or 'military' picture postcard with its often colourful image and printed message or caption, was a welcome means of personal communication for many people.

In Britain, cards that showed the effect the war was having on the home front were frequently on sale in the shops - within days of an ‘incident’ happening.

The Scarborough Raid

For example, on 16th December 1914, ships of the German navy bombarded several north-eastern coastal towns in England. Picture postcards showing the damage and havoc caused to the town of Scarborough, for instance, were on sale there within 48 hours.

A photographic card mailed from the town and showing a shell-damaged house carried this message, "This is what the Hun did 3 days ago." One hundred and twenty four people died in the east coast raid and over 500 were wounded.

"THE GERMAN RAID SCARBOROUGH : DEC : 16th 1914. THE FORESHORE." This picture  - by the artist S. Begg - first appeared in the London Illustrated News.  The card was published by 'J. A. & I. Ward & Son' of Scarborough and was posted from there.

Before the outbreak of the First World War, the trade in picture postcards was firmly established with numerous categories and themes available. People purchased them, not just to convey messages to friends and relatives but also to collect and save the cards in special albums.

When war erupted in August 1914, picture postcards were already the perfect medium to provide a link between the men on active service and their families and friends at home.

Throughout the war, postcard publishers, printers, photographers and artists helped to boost the morale of the people both at home and the troops on the war fronts.

Huge numbers of cards contributed to a photographic record of the conflict and many more colourful ones - which were artist’s images and impressions of battle scenes and incidents - reflected the government and public attitude to the war at that time. Other cards expressed the thoughts and fears, sentiments and emotions of the millions of people who bought and received them.

Many picture postcards from World War1 were released as single cards and some had a fascinating story to tell.

Click the above link to view some of them.


The newsagents W.H. Smith displayed numerous categories of war related cards in the postcard racks of its 2,000 shops. In addition, booksellers, cinemas, corner shops, stationary stores, newspapers, public houses, haberdashery stores, post offices and branches of Boots the Chemist and numerous other commercial outlets sold war related cards to the public.

By 1915, ‘war cards’ were also been displayed and offered for sale in the thousands of YMCA canteens and rest huts in military training camps at home and on the Western Front and elsewhere.

Many of the postcard images from the 1914-1918 War are not found anywhere else except as picture postcards and are immensely informative and could even be considered as important historical documents.

Almost every conceivable subject about the Great War 1914-1918, can be found on contemporary picture postcards and at present (2013) they are generally an under-valued source of illustrative material from the conflict. At present WW1 cards are still reasonably priced starting at say, 50p for one showing battlefield destruction in France or Flanders to say, £20 for a card depicting a British hospital ship.

However, an average price would be £3-£5 for the majority. As an example, this would be the price range for most of the 176 cards in The Daily Mail War Postcards series - which are extremely popular, well worth collecting and still available in reasonable numbers.

The field is vast.



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