Our very first ‘Past Postcard’ is one that is very local to us (we are based in St.Leonards on Sea, East Sussex) – and amazingly, dates back nearly 112 years to 1906! It depicts the impressively ornate interior of St.Saviour’s church in nearby Eastbourne, and is addressed to “Miss Moon, Vinehall Street, Robertsbridge, Sussex”
Although the writing is a little hard to decipher, it appears to have been sent from “Nellie.” The monarch on the stamp is King Edward VII, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (he was on the throne for a relatively short time, from 1901 until his death in 1910) The text on the card (written upside-down incidentally!) says:
“Dear M(I think), Thanks for card glad you reached home safely it is feeling hot here Annie got back alright Jessie is gone to Heathfield I am just off out for a walk love to you from Nellie”
Although this is a fairly innocuous message, it feels very special to be holding this snippet of the history of ordinary people’s lives, and amazed that something so fragile has survived to tell it’s tale.
Sadly, a Google search reveals a tragic family loss for the Moon Family of Vinehall Street. The name of William Moon is on the First World War Memorial (1914 – 1918) at Mountfield Church, and he was the 29 year old eldest son of William and Sarah Moon. He was killed in action on 5th August 1916 (10 years after the postcard was sent). He was by trade a grocer’s assistant, and had signed up to take part in the conflict whilst in Melbourne, Australia (a long way from East Sussex, on the south coast of England) after emigrating aged 25 years old. (Information found on ‘Roll of Honour – Sussex)
People from the UK emigrated to benefit from the booming economy following the Gold Rush in the 1850’s, however, British emigration to Australia virtually stopped during World War 1. Australia (as part of the empire) went to war too, sending hundreds of thousands of troops. For Australia, the First World War, resulted in the most deaths and casualties for any conflict it took part in. From a population of less than 5 million, 416, 809 men joined the Allied war effort, 60, 000 were killed and 156, 000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.
You can read more about the history of UK migration to Australia, and the impact of the First and Second Wars here.
The nature of this discovery, makes the postcard even more poignant and it seems very sad that William had moved so far away for a new life, only for it to be cut short in such an honourable but tragic way.
RIP William Moon (1887 – 1916)