Letters of the First World War: “Out of hospital”

Stephen Brown PC out of hospital

Stephen Brown’s postcard home, sent after he was discharged from hospital in April 1915. Image © IWM (Documents.145); Text © Brown family c/o IWM

After four letters sent from English army barracks, in December 1914 17-year-old Stephen Brown finally arrived at the front in France.

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that we’ve been blogging Stephen’s letters to his mother in sequence on Wednesdays.

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[?]

Dear Mother

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.

Love from

Steve”

Stephen Brown PC from front 1914

Stephen’s postcard to his mother, sent in December 1914 after he arrived in France. Image © IWM (Documents.145); Text © Brown family c/o IWM

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”

Stephen Brown PC from front 1914 postmark only 2 contrast high

Close-up of the postmark and censor stamp on Stephen’s December 1914 postcard home. Image © IWM (Documents.145)

“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.

Lives of the First World War launches on Monday 12 May 2014. In the future, we hope our Letters of the First World War posts could feature mementoes uploaded to Life Stories by you, the public.

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One Response to Letters of the First World War: “Out of hospital”

  1. Pingback: Letters of the First World War: “Say I am only seventeen” | Lives of the First World War Blog

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