3 January 1917, to LilDear Lil, I shall send a letter tomorrow. This is the first day we have been allowed to write. We’ve had tons of work to do, hence no letter today. Address as before. Don’t put on an A P O but instead of BEF put IEF Italy. Best love, G.
3 January 1917, to LilNone of your letters have arrived yet. I’ve not had any since Dec 23rd (1916). They’ll all come at once I expect. G
3 January 1917, to LilWill you send me the ordinary Hugo’s Italian please. You know the three paper backed ones like the French. I have one I can borrow until it comes. Love from G.
This is part of a cardboard box full of Gilbert Tasker Mahony’s postcards and documents found by David Jackson in the cellar when he moved into 4 Avondale Mount, Shipley in 1979. Most of them are headed OAS (On Active Service) and stamped in red 'Passed by Censor). The censor crossed out the name of the towns in most cases but we have managed to decipher them or work them out. The majority were written to his wife, Lil, or daughter Aileen, but some were to his mother-in-law, Mrs Collins and one to his sister-in-law. My thanks to David for given me access to this fascinating archive
1917 Postcards(Click on the card to see location and a bigger image)
Gilbert Tasker Mahony
The first six cards are all the same date. Although they are from France, the request for an Italian dictionary and the card of 4 January suggests he was in Italy
3 January 1917, to Aileen (aged 4)How’s this? D
3 January 1917, to Mrs CollinsHope you are better. G
3 January 1917, to his sister-in-law Same place?[Suggests earlier correspondence]
3 March 1917, to AileenDear Aileen, I am sending you along another pc showing some roses. I am certain you would like a bunch like them. As I cannot send you any from here I send you a picture instead. Have you had the other ones I sent? Best love xxxxxx Dad
2 May 1917, to Aileen (aged 4)½ hour here. (leave 3.30 pm) Please send my razor strop. Behind the b.m. door. Cheerio! G
4 January 1917, to AileenDear Aileen, Here is a picture of some Italian children where I am staying. Love from D xxxxxxxx
7 June 1917, to LilWe have arrived all right after many stops and changes. Last night we were almost washed away by a thunderstorm which lasted 4 hrs. It was terrific. Letter follows as soon as possible. Gxxxxxxxx
N.B. Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. It was from a chapel here on 7 November 1920 that the remains of an unidentifiable, fallen British soldiers, disinterred from the battlefields, was taken to England to be buried in the Tomb of the Unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey
26 December 1917, to LilNew address XI Corps School BEF. Best love G. Impossible to write yesterday or for some time.
N.B. Merville was the scene of fighting between the Germans and French and British cavalry early in October 1914 but from the 9th of that month to 11 April 1918, it remained in Allied hands. In October 1914, and in the autumn of 1915, the town was the headquarters of the Indian Corps. It was a railhead until May 1915, and a billeting and hospital centre from 1915-1918. The 6th and Lahore Casualty Clearing Stations were there from the autumn of 1914 to the autumn of 1915; the 7th from December 1914, to April 1917; the 54th (1st/2nd London) from August 1915 to March 1918, and the 51st (Highland) from May 1917 to April 1918. On the evening of 11 April 1918, in the Battles of the Lys, the Germans forced their way into Merville and the town was not retaken until 19 August. The cemeteries were not used again until the concentration of battlefield burials into the Extension began, after the Armistice.This was taken from the Commonwelath War Graves Site which you can access here
27 December 1917, to LilC P M Mahony 344 A G Staff. Best love G
27 December 1917, to AileenC P M Mahony 344 A G Staff. How did you like Xmas? Dad xxxxx
27 December 1917, to Mrs CollinsHere is a p.c. showing altar of church here. The building is very fine inside. Please save the p.c. G
N.B AG staff = Army Gymnastic Staff?Montargis is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France on the Loing river. The town is located about 110 km south of Paris and 70 km east of Orléans in the Gâtinais. Montargis is the second largest city in the Loiret, after Orléans. Wikipedia
N.B Merville church appears to have been shelled or bombed soon after this
27 December 1917, to AileenBe good. Dad
29 December 1917, to LilI will send a letter on at the first opportunity. There has been no chance since Xmas day. All that day were on fatigues. Love from G
29 December 1917, to LilStill on the train. G
29 December 1917, to AileenCan you build one like this? xxxx from Dad
29 December 1917, to AileenI sent some p cs of this place the other day. I hope you have them. D How did santa Claus go on?
29 December 1917, to LilBull fights are held here. We are only stopping in the station here so unfortunately cannot see these places. How is Ma I wonder? G
30 December 1917, to LilStill going! How do you like this?
30 December 1917, to AileenWould you like to be here? xxxx Dad
N.B First of five cards sent en route, it would seem, to Cannes