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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Cards of Love Sent from the Trenches - Sepia Saturday

My I  knew  immediately which photographs I would use to match  this week's prompt picture of a pretty girl in an elegant Edwardian dress, holding a basket of flowers.  

For towards the end of the First World War, my grandfather,  William Danson,  sent from Flanders to his wife and daughters back home in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, a number of similar postcards.

"Dear Alice,  received your letter alright.  I have landed back at the Batt and am in the pink.  I have had a letter from Jennie [sister]  and am glad they have heard from Tom [brother].  Your loving husband Billy xxx"

Written in pencil with the writing now faded, and the censor's stamp unhelpfully across the message, the card was sent from the Field Post Office 7th February 1918 to Mrs W. Danson, 20 Bull Street, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, Blighty, 

The "In the pink" phrase seemed to be a favourite term that William used in other messages as well.

"Batt" I take it to mean the battalion.

"Blighty" in the address was used as   a nickname for Britain, or often specifically England.  It was first used by soldiers in the Indian army in the 19th century and popularised in the First World War.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word derives from "bilayati", a regional variant of the Urdu word " meaning "foreign", "British", "English" or "European." or "Anglo-Indian".

A "blighty wound" was a wound serious enough to  require recuperation away from the trenches, but not serious enough to kill or maim the victim - it was hoped for by many, and sometimes self-inflicted.


Grandad (William Danson) was a labourer, a taciturn country man.  He never spoke about the war and would never have put into words the sentiments expressed (sometimes in French) in the cards he sent to his wife Alice.  

 "Dear Alice, Just a line to let you know I am in the pink and hope all at home are the same.  There is nothing that I want.  I will write again shortly.   Your loving Billy xxx".   Sent 29th April 1918.
Alice Danson, nee English  - my grandmother

                                            My aunt Edith and my mother Kathleen Danson.

 A postcard to my mother, Kathleen.    The postmark is 2nd September 2nd 1917, and her 9th birthday would be on September 8th.  Written in feint pencil, the message is  now rather  difficult to decipher.  

"Dear Kathleen, I got your card, all right and am in the pink and hope you  like this card.   I have had a letter from Jennie [sister] and she says all's well at home.  No more this time.  From her Dad   xxx."    Sent 29th April 1918.  

"Dear Edith. I am all right and hope all at home are well.  I will try and send you  a nice card for your birthday and will send it in a day or two.  From Your Dad. xxx"
Sent 3rd September 1917.  Two months earlier, William had been fighting in the mud bath that was the Battle of Passchendaele.  


On 9th April 1918 William was awarded the Military Medal for "conspicuous gallantry and determined devotion to duty  in action"


William  served in the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.  and I wrote to the regimental museum at Lancaster Castle for more information   I  was sent a copy of an extract from the Regimental War Diary.   The full citation (a poor typed copy) reads:

"For conspicuous gallantry in action at GIVENCHY on 9th April 1918, this N.C.O commanded a Lewis Gun section...He did good work with his gun during the attack inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. When the other N.C.O. in command of the other Lewis Gun was wounded, he took over the gun and controlled the line of fire.  
 9th April was five  days after Granddad's 33rd birthday.


Amongst the horrors  of that war,  these cards, kept for nigh on 100 years 
 stand out as a symbol of  beauty and love for Grandad's family back home. 


Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers  to share their family history and memories through photographs.


Click HERE to find images  from other Sepia Saturday bloggers.


  1. Clearly your grandfather was a hero. And probably suffered through horrors, yet could write that he was in the pink and need nothing. How did he do it?? Is the medal still in the family? A wonderful post.

    1. Thank you, Helen, for your thoughtful comment. The medals were given to his youngest daughter, Peggy, born after WW1, when she emigrated to Australia.

  2. He picked such lovely cards to send to his wife! A very thoughtful man in the midst of war. He was one of the special ones for sure! :)

  3. Your grandfather seems to have known his family was worried back home. Receiving these lovely cards probably helped your grandmother, mother and aunt cope with his absence. So wonderful that these cards have been preserved!

  4. Oh how lovely to see the sentimental cards with cheerful young people, in the hopes of sharing those emotions when it was hard for everyone to live through the war...and I'm so glad your grandfather did.

  5. Gosh! Imagine All The Emotion That Must Have Been Wrapped Up one Small Card!

  6. 'In the pink' is certainly a funny expression, especially when used by men who would probably wouldn't be seen dead in actual pink. I hope your grandfather's daughter's family still has his medals. I recently discovered that medals awarded to my uncle Ken and to a great uncle had been sold to a collector by my cousins, who inherited them from their father/ my mother and uncle's brother. I told a 2nd cousin in NZ about it and she is going to buy them back for the family at considerable expense ($12,000 to be precise).

  7. These colorful sentimental French postcards must have been sent to thousands of loved ones back home. British, French, American, maybe even German. They reflect all the hope, prayers, hidden anxiety, and frightening stress brought on by war.


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