Witley, April 18, 1917

Wednesday         Its nearly time we got some mail I guess its gone to France hope we get some soon Weather dull

bringing up the mail canadian war museumThese smiling Canadian postal workers are bringing mailbags up from a dugout behind the lines in France. (1) Transporting the mail to and from soldiers was a gargantuan task. One source suggests British soldiers sent home between one and two million letters and postcards a week. (2) Another says that in 1917 the Home Depot — a temporary structure covering five acres of Regent’s Park in London — handled twelve million letters and a million parcels a week, addressed to members of the British Expeditionary Force.  (3)

Getting all that mail to the right place and then to right person was complicated when an individual changed units — as Percy did.  Percy was right to think that his mail had gone to France before someone realized that he had been left behind in quarantine when his original battery left Witley Camp.

(1) Photograph from the Canadian War Museum, George Metcalf Archival Collection 19930012-740.
(2) Hanna, Martha. “War Letters: Communication between Front and Home Front.”  1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel et al. Freie Universität Berlin.
(3) Allen, Tony. “Tommy’s Mail and the Army Post Office.” Picture PostCards from the Great War. Allen quotes Basil Clarke, a journalist writing in 1917.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”
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