13 December 2011

Postcards from the war

My mother has two postcards which were passed on to her from her own mother. They were sent in 1916 to an unknown female relative, from her father, who was away at war in France.

From the details written on the cards we could tell it was a young girl because her father called her "girlie", but we knew it wasn't my grandmother because her father, Adolf Beringer, didn't go to war. We wondered if it was someone on my grandfather's side of the family - but looking at all the men in those families there was no one who seemed to fit. So we looked at ancestors in the Rich family - my grandmother's mother's family.

And we had a possible contenter: my grandmother's favourite cousin - Cousin Dorothy - her father went to war. In Dorothy's family there was her father, Harry Radley, her mother, Emma Radley nee Rich, Dorothy, and her brother Kenrick. So, with no sisters, it was quite likely that Dorothy might be her father's "girlie". One of the postcards was a birthday postcard, and it read "Wishing my dear little girlie many happy returns of 9/2/17". The only problem was that we didn't know Dorothy's date of birth - we only knew it was about 1913 - the NSW BDM birth records in the online search are only up until 1910 at the moment, and this was after that. Googling didn't come up with any birth dates either. I was looking up Harry Radley's service records at the National Archives of Australia when I discovered that Dorothy also had one. Although her actual service record is not yet available online the available information had her date of birth: 9 Feb 1913! So, quite by accident, I confirmed that the postcards were sent to my grandmother's favourite cousin, Dorothy Radley.

I suppose that the reason why my grandmother had them was that Dorothy never married and had no children, so there were no descendants of her own to pass such treasured belongings on to. To give them to your favourite cousin would be quite logical. I only vaguely remember Cousin Dorothy. I didn't meet her many times, but I remember she was a lovely kind lady.

Oh, by the way, the cards both have quite a bit of foxing on them. Are there any paper conservators out there who could tell me a good gentle way to clean them, without damaging them?

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