The club’s speaker at the meeting on 25th May 2022 was John Wilton, a Rotarian with the Eastbourne AM club. John has written a book about World War I, “It’ll all be over By Christmas” which will be published in September and this was the subject of his talk. The booked is based on John’s collection of some 250 postcards, documents and other artefacts from the Great War. Communications from the Western front and the Middle East were mainly by postcard, the easiest form of communication for the soldiers but could contain little information. Early postcards had to have French postage stamps but postage could later be avoided by writing “On active Service”; although many were undated the time periods could be worked out by the type of Censors’ stamps which changed each year. Place names on the cards were mostly deleted for security reasons.
John also spoke of how some people handed out white feathers to those they thought should be fighting but weren’t. Badges and insignia were given to those in reserved occupations doing essential work such as mining, ammunition manufacture and transport to avoid being wrongly and unjustly marked out for a white feather. John passed round a number of different badges as well as other mementos such as a Princess Mary gift box, a German Lusitania medal to “celebrate” the sinking of the ship, and a special constable’s arm band and truncheon.
President Geoff Gander thanked John for his very interesting talk.
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