Picture Postcards from the Great War

The story behind a Great War postcard - Tony Allen

 (15) PoW "Comforts" appeal

During the Great War,the greatest enemy for British prisoners of war in German camps was the shortage of food and the lifeline for British captives were the food parcels from home. In the early days of the war a prisoner's family usually wanted to send parcels to Germany, or at least pay for them to be sent. To accommodate the demand, newspapers started to carry notices from commercial outlets which advertised;  "FOOD FOR PRISONERS OF WAR, if your soldier friend or relative is a prisoner of war in Germany, he will appreciate A PARCEL OF FOOD FROM HOME."  Prices ranged from 5/- to £1. Another advertisement urged people to "render a national service by opening [your] purses and send parcels of comforts to the brave officers and men who are suffering dire privation in the hands of the enemy."

ww1 postcard

This fund-raising picture postcard carries an illustration that first appeared in the Illustrated London News. It was sold to help "The British Prisoner of War in Germany"
and goes on, "PLEASE HELP. If you will yourself stamp some of these cards and address them to your friends, write for a supply..."  The appeal focused on prisoners of war from Kent.   Below is a food parcel label

At the same time as the press were urging people to send food parcels to British P.o.W.s, comfort organisations were being established to help prisoners from their areas.  Some of them issued fund-raising picture postcards. An example of one is shown above. it was issued by the Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men. It called to the public's attention the plight of Kentish prisoners of war in Germany and said; "This Fund is to provide Food and Necessaries for Men of ‘THE BUFFS’ and ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENTS, and all men whose homes are in Kent." The card expressed the claim that "THE NEED IS URGENT" or food parcels to be sent out to P.o.W.s. Indeed, the need was extremely urgent, and not just for the men of Kent. Prisoners from many different regiments were not receiving food parcels, and moreover, the meager prison-camp food allowance was less than minimal.

In March 1915, the War Office sanctioned the appointment of the Prisoners of War Help Committee.  It was a voluntary organisation and had no official powers, but its aim was to "organise and provide a link between the various P.o.W. comfort groups". Amongst these were the Regimental Care Committees. They were staffed by ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’, who worked to provide comforts for P.o.W.'s from ‘their’ regiment. Every fortnight they sent each prisoner three parcels of properly selected food, each weighing 10lb. as well as 13lb. of bread, and into each parcel was put a postcard which advised the prisoner of the contents




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