Good communications between soldiers at the front and their loved ones in the UK was recognised very early on as being as important to troops’ morale and efficiency as good rations. The British Army in the Great War moved millions of letters and parcels in both directions and letters from troops back to their loved ones in the UK were censored to ensure they did not reveal anything that might be militarily sensitive. Naturally this process was lengthy and a way was needed to speed up the process of delivering simple messages back home, especially in the wake of a major battle. The Army came up with a simple form, the Field Service Postcard (Army Form A.2042). This was a simple piece of card that had phrases for the soldier to strike through to let his relatives know he was safe:The opposite side of the postcard had space for an address:These cards were free to send and consequently were very popular. Although the information contained in them was by its nature limited, it could be delivered to the recipient in the UK within twelve hours of being posted as it did not need to be censored. This gave much needed piece of mind to family back in Great Britain- they might not have details, but at least they would know their loved one was still alive. Agatha Chrstie, the novelist, received one from her husband:
It had printed sentences on it which anyone sending a card was allowed to cross off or leave in: such things as AM WELL, AM IN HOSPITAL, and so on. I felt, when I got it, for all it’s meagre information, that it was a good omen.
Some at the time criticised the postcard for damaging the skill of letter writing, but these postcards seem to have been used alongside conventional letters rather than instead of them. This example dates from some point after 1918 as it has an R.A.F. form number on it as well as an Army number, but I have been unable to find a date when the form went out of use; the style of the Royal Coat of Arms is that used in the Second World War: