Lancashire At War.co.uk
Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire
Darwen World War One postcards
We were recently contacted by Johnny Anwyl, who has three postcards dating from the First World War. Two are addressed to the same house in Darwen: 73 Hindle Street. The other entitled 'All Darwen Boys' is blank on its other side.
We have reproduced them here in the hope that someone might be able to put a name to a face or provide some further information about the cards.
The photo on the RIGHT has the following written on its rear (transcribed as best as we can, with a little help from our friend & author Jonathan Ali):
First to let you know I got back safe & sound. But today Friday we are moving out of the Castle into number 10 Camp No. 2 Hut.
I hope you are not in the dumps because I have left you. I have received the card you sent on to me and it seems a very nice place where our junk is at. This is a photograph of one of our boys he is sat down in the middle.
I had not a postcard so I wrote on this.
Will write a letter later.
What is legible of the postmark is: Kinmel Park Camp November 1917
After a little research, we found out that this is a First World War training camp in North wales near Rhyl. Tens of thousands of soldiers passed through the camp mainly from Wales and the North West of England during WW1. Comparing the photograph (ABOVE RIGHT) with others online, it looks like the men were outside one of the huts of the camp. Jonathan Ali pointed out that "all the soldiers are wearing hospital blues so they are recovering from illness or wounds." This fits in with our research as the postcard also says that they have moved in to Camp 10. A map of the site (SEE HERE) shows that Camp 10 is the Hospital.
The postcard also says that they are moving out of "the castle". This would have been the nearby Bodelwyddan Castle. As according to
Wikipedia: "By the First World War the house had become a recuperation hospital for wounded soldiers. During this time, the grounds of the estate were used by soldiers based at the nearby Kinmel Camp for trench warfare training. Traces of these trenches can still be seen."
But we still don't know who any of the men photographed were. Albert, it seems, wasn't one of them. And what of the person he refers to as "one of our boys" in the photo. Does he mean a fellow Darwen man or someone from his own regiment?
The second postcard (ABOVE & RIGHT) was never posted but has the following written on the back: "A Happy New Year To All
G. H. A."
It is to Mrs Ainsworth at the same Darwen address as the previous one.
The photo is intriguing and we wish to thank Jonathan Ali once again for his sharp eye, noticing first that they are from the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. And secondly that there are two men in German uniform on the back row. We contacted the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum and asked for their opinion.
Peter Donnelly replied: "I think there are two extra soldiers whose faces you can just see at the very back on the left hand side. They are certainly King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, with a mix of head-dress, some with helmets and others with their caps. I am not sure of the battalion, it could even have been a Territorial Force Battalion, who later in the war had often run out of their own shoulder titles as just using the standard "King's Own" title.
I am not convinced that the two men are Germans. Whilst the one in the cardigan appears to be wearing a German hat, and the other in the British tunic, appears to be wearing both a German hat and german belt and buckle, it may be that these are simply getting dressed up for the photograph".
Our thanks to Peter, who also checked the Regiment's records for any trace of a relevant "Ainsworth", but sadly found none. Also, 73 Hindle Street in Darwen is no longer standing, though the road itself still exists as do some of the houses.
The third postcard (ABOVE) has no writing on the back and is simply titled "All Darwen Boys". We don't know its date or origin. Can you help? Do you know any of the men in the photo?
BELOW: A flyer for the current exhibition at Lancaster Museum, which contains the King's Own Museum.
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Rhyl History Club have the following page on Kinmel Camp:
The JTR Rhyl Forum has more on Kinmel Camp here:
There are photos and information about Bodelwyddan Castle, near Rhyl and its Trench-Warfare Training Ground here: