Plaistow resident seeks family of East Ham First World War postcard
PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 April 2015
During the summer of 1917, a young man called Fred sent a postcard to a Mrs Nottage of Campbell Road, East Ham, to tell her of the weather he was experiencing in France and of his hopes that she was in good heath.
But this was not your average holiday postcard.
Fred was serving in France, fighting in the First World War.
And now, almost 98 years later, his letter has been unearthed by Plaistow resident Dave Orme - and he hopes to reunite the memento with the Nottage family.
“I visited Belgium last year as one of my friends discovered his great uncle was buried in a war grave,” Dave explained.
“The trip made me want my own memento of the war.
“I did some research and came across a chap who had a sack of postcards. I was shocked to find one from East Ham. I thought I’d buy it as I know Campbell Road is still there.
“It’s in a lovely condition.
“I was going to frame it but then I thought that if any of Mrs Nottage’s family are still around, I’m sure they would be happier to have it,” Dave, 51, said.
The engineer attempted to trace Fred’s history by checking the Commonwealth Grave’s website, to see if he could discover whether Fred had died in action.
But his search proved futile.
“I also tried Google. There is someone in Australia looking for a Nottage from East Ham but I don’t know if it’s the same one.
“When I’ve visited my local pub, the Black Lion in Plaistow, some of the regulars have told me stories about a Nottage family from the area but again, I don’t know if it’s the same family,” Dave said.
But with the help of the Recorder, he hopes someone will come forward.
“There’s the risk that this Fred may have been a terrible cad after the war. He could have ended up in prison for all we know,” Dave joked.
He then added: “I’d be pleased if someone claimed it. I would nip round on my motorbike to give it to them. “Fingers crossed we can reunite it with the family as it would be a shame to see it put in an envelope.
“If the situation was reversed, I’d be chuffed to receive the call.”
One thing that grabbed Dave’s attention was the subject matter.
“I found it odd that Fred chose to write about the weather but I suppose they weren’t allowed to talk about much else because of censorship.” he said.
The letter was sent from France on June 22 or July 22 1917, from AD1, understood to be the First Army Distribution Point,
Fred tells Mrs Nottage that he is “fine” and hopes to write again the next day “if all is well”.
He affectionally signed the letter with “love and kisses Fred”.
The First World War lasted from 1914 to 1918. Estimates vary but figures suggest 10 million military personnel and seven million civilians from the Allies and the Central Powers lost their lives.
Do you know Mrs Nottage who lived at 31 Campbell Lane in East Ham? Contact Rebecca Cushway at 020 8447 3886.
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