Our First Prisoners Postcard

This week’s postcard is another of the Daily Mail’s War Pictures series. These cards were produced during the First World War for sale to the British public. The paper paid £25000 for exclusive rights to a set of official photographs that were produced as a highly successful series of 176 postcards. Tonight we are looking at card number 56:CaptureThis card is captioned “The glorious first of July 1916”- our first prisoners. It depicts German prisoners of war being passed down the lines after their capture on the first day of the Battle of the Somme:Capture - CopyThe ruins of a farmhouse are visible in the background:Capture - Copy (2)Whilst in the foreground British soldiers watch on curiously:Capture - Copy (3)These men wear the distinctive soft trench cap with its top strap. The standing man also carries a gas mask, possibly a PH hood, in a small pouch slung across his body:Capture - Copy (4)Unusually for this series of cards, this image was not taken by an official army photographer, but rather by a member of No 1 Printing Company, Royal Engineers. The series of cards carefully played up the few successes of the Somme battles and missed out the disasters and horrendous loss of British life, the images being carefully chosen and captioned to portray the battle in a better light with those back home. The Germans were to lose 400,000 men during the Somme fighting, including 40,000 taken prisoner. Basil Clarke was a reported for the War illustrated and described the German prisoners coming in:

On each side of the marching column were the British guards in khaki ‑ looking wonderfully spick and span both in walk and appearance compared with the untidy slouch of the prisoners. I spoke with many of [them] and asked if they were comfortable … it was much better, some said, than being in the trenches.

This card makes the third or fourth in this series I have in my collection and I am quite curious to see how easy it would be to build up a set of these cards, I have acquired another couple recently; so do not be surprised if more cards appear in the future.

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