To Alice from Anne

My Dear Alice,

 Just a card to wish you a very happy Xmas & a bright new year. I hope you & all the dear ones are well. I am afraid these will be very late but I know you will forgive me I have been very busy. Mr Charles the son has been home on leave for 10 days from France. He has been there over a year so we have had a house full of company but we have all enjoyed having him even if it has made us plenty of work. Poor fellow he has gone back today. I hope God will spare him & bring him back. 2 brothers have died in his arms out there, he has had a dreadful time. Won’t it be nice to have them all home again for good.

 Goodbye dearie & God bless you & grant you a happy Xmas. Please write soon. I hope you have all had my letters but as many mail boats have gone down I rather doubt it. Much love from Anne.

Speculation offers only dim light to the circumstances of this card. Anne the writer appears to be a servant/worker in an estate of a Charles family somewhere in the UK, near enough to France for the son to gain ten days home leave, (something Australian troops could never experience).

Given the class distinction within the British Military, the sons of a wealthy family would likely be officers of some kind, perhaps Lieutenants who fought and died in the trenches. The statement that his brothers ‘died in his arms’ (if it is literal) would suggest they were in the same regiment and had access to each other on the battlefield.

While research and speculation are not always the best of partners, with care, they can add some depth to a story. However both can be flawed and in the case of this single card, there is enough hard information to gain the most important insight of all – war is hell and too many families suffer too much at its hand.