Cyril Bartlett - the beginning of the Great War


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On the 6th July 1915, we have a postcard showing Visé Paris 477:
Visé Paris 477
The printing scored out by the censor, reads as follows:La Grande Guerre 1914-1915 Les RUINES de NEUVE CHAPELLE aprés les Combats de Mars, 1915

Dear Jessie
A card to say I received your letter yesterday morning, thanks. I am still yours alright. Will write letter soon, much love, Yours Ever, xxx
Cyril xxx

While Cyril was serving in France, Jessie was working as a housemaid at 183 Kings Road, Reading. Now divided into flats and offices, in 1915 these big houses were in private hands and most had a large coterie of servants. Jessie was unhappy in this house and eventually her father came to take her back home. She was working in Kings Road for at least the first few months of the war as we can see from the address on Cyril’s letters to her.

Post Card showing Jesse's address
Like many girls, she attended church and she held a Sunday School class at St George’s Church near the house where she lived eventually with her parents, brothers and sister.

Context


In France, Sir John French staged an assault known as the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10-13 March). This attack pierced the German line; the Germans closed the gap before the reserves arrived. At this time, the Germans first used gas in an attack on the Ypres salient – the second battle of Ypres (22 April-25 May); there were heavy British losses. From then on, soldiers had to add gas masks to their other burdens.
( A J P Taylor, English History 1914-1945)

The card below was sent to Jessie, the message on the reverse reads: 'A Souvenir from France and love from Cyril' and it is addressed: Miss J Green
161 Belmont Road, Reading, Berks
Blighty

Embroidered silk card still inside

The following is from an undated card, presumably enclosed in an envelope with others:
Dearest Jessie,
received your nice letter yesterday. Many thanks, hope you received my letter […] we were in the trenches last Sunday so you can guess the weather made it very uncomfortable. I hope you will like these cards dear, I am sending some home as well. Will write letter soon.
Yours ever, Cyril
Embroidered silk card with the message card it contained shown beside it

Cyril sent many of these silk/lace cards each in a separate envelope to protect it from postage marks and damage. Originally each one consisted of an embroidered silk envelope, containing a small card with a message - shown here are a pair - if you click the link or the pictures of them, you can see a gallery of the other cards that have survived.


Jessie received a Christmas card sent from the British Expeditionary Force, France by the 4th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment, Christmas 1915.

Christmas Card
Inside Cyril writes:
To Jessie, wishing you a happy xmas and the best of luck, from Cyril.
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