After four letters sent from English army barracks, in December 1914 17-year-old Stephen Brown finally arrived at the front in France.
Settling in with his company of King’s Royal Rifles servicemen, Stephen sent his mother a postcard.
Transcript of December postcard
“Postmark 13 DEC 14
Army Post Office 2
Censor Mark No.163[?]
Just a line to let you know that I am alright. I am enjoying myself in France I get good food here I will soon be home.
The trail goes cold
excuse me for not putting a stamp on as I have not had any pay
After this postcard, the trail goes cold. There is no news about Stephen in any sources we’re aware of for weeks. Perhaps, on finally joining the fighting, he was not able to write, or chose not to, or the letters were lost.
The next time Stephen’s family heard from him seems to have been a postcard dated 6 April 1915. This one was a YMCA postcard sent from Queensborough in Sheerness, Kent. It carried the slogan “on active service”.
In it, Stephen informs his mother that he will soon be “out of hospital”. It is unclear whether sickness or a wound was the cause of his hospital stay.
“I will soon be out of hospital”
“Dear Mother just a line to let you know that I am quite well and out of Hospital. I am asking for a weekend pass on Friday till Monday I sent May your address and she is going to write to you excuse me for not putting a stamp on as I have not had any pay”
A week later Stephen sent another postcard, letting his mother know that he had rejoined his battalion and returned to the reserve. A return to France was surely looming.
“Dear Mother just a line to let you know that I have changed my address it is 5 Batt 6 coy KRR RGA Barracks Sheerness from Stephen”
Building Stephen’s war story
We don’t know what Stephen’s precise experiences in France were, but his next postcard home – which we’ll blog next week – was perhaps the most poignant of all his letters.