Search

First World War centenary: Postcards to a Havering sweetheart from Western Front soldier

07:00 29 April 2014

Pte Arthur Bailes

Pte Arthur Bailes

Archant

At just 23 years old Pte Arthur Bailes went to the Western Front to aid the war effort; his only communication with his sweetheart was through postcards.

Maud BailesMaud Bailes

He sent about 100 of these to Maud Heywood, who he would later marry while on leave.

They have been unearthed by their daughter Julia Bailes, of Harold Wood, and are being displayed in 
Upminster Tithe Barn, in Hall Lane.

The poignant missives 
reveal an insight into relationships during the First World War.

Arthur lived in Brentwood and signed up to the Army in 1914 leaving Maud, from Havering, behind working as a chambermaid in the mansion in Belhus Park, Aveley, which was ­destroyed after the war partly due to the severe bomb damage.

Andrew Skingley with some World War 1 post cards on display at Tythe Barn in UpminsterAndrew Skingley with some World War 1 post cards on display at Tythe Barn in Upminster

Arthur was in the Army Service Corps making sure the troops on the front line got the supplies they needed.

Many of his notes, addressed to Essex, in “Blighty”, are of him wishing Maud well and sending his love. Many details were screened by the censors in case they gave away sensitive information to the 
enemy.

Many of the captions on the postcards were crudely scrubbed out so Maud would not know his whereabouts.

The government feared that sensitive information would be revealed and that if people at home knew the horrors of the front then support for the war might be 
diminished.

World War 1 post cards on display at Tythe Barn in UpminsterWorld War 1 post cards on display at Tythe Barn in Upminster

Some postcards had their entire contents, apart from the address, obscured.

One chilling message, written on the back of one depicting a derelict town, 
escaped the censors. It read: “I have been here two or three times, and so have the Germans.”

When Arthur was on leave in 1917 he and Maud married, but he had to once again return to the trenches.

A Christmas card sent from a French hospital in 1918 reveals that the newly-married soldier was being treated for a serious injury to his head, thought to be from shrapnel wound.

The war was then over and he was discharged to ­return home to his wife.

After his return, the Bailes went on to have two daughters.

Julia also discovered Arthur’s “trench art”; spending his free time making ornaments out of ­ammunition.

Remaining are two blades used for opening envelopes. Their handles are made from discarded bullets and the blades are ornately 
engraved with Somme and Ypres where he served.

Andrew Skingley, 61, who volunteers at the barn and curated the exhibition was a neighbour of Arthur as he was growing up, describing him as a “good old boy”.

Andrew has read Arthur’s war diaries which detail horrific events such as Zeppelins bombing Upminster while he was on leave.

He said: “In his diary he talks of his mates being killed by bombs.

“He must have been very, very grateful to have survived. Where would we be without them?

“Although he wasn’t a frontline troop he did go there and was left scarred.”

Julia was not available to talk to the Recorder but Andrew had spoken to her about the cards.

“She kept them for so long and re-read them before handing them over to me,” he said.

“Her dad spoke very little about the horrors he witnessed in the war.

“How can you describe what happened?

“So many people got killed and maimed.

“She’s very proud of him.”

The barn opens on two weekends a month. The next will be May 3 and 4 from 10.30am to 4pm, entry is free.

Read more:

The Battle of Romford: Churchill’s nightmare WWI vision

First World War centenary: Schoolchildren set to learn about the conflict through Havering Council scheme

Latest Romford News Stories

07:00
Rainham resident Colin Nickless is angered by the rise in energy bills

An investigation has been launched into energy costs at an affordable housing estate after residents received “extortionate” bills.

Yesterday, 17:40
Residents staging a protest against plans to dump waste on Ingrebourne Hill at the opening of the public inquiry.

“This will send a strong message our green belt is not for sale,” a councillor has said after finding out a public inquiry dismissed today an appeal to dump inert waste on green belt land.

Yesterday, 15:33
Michel Charles and Hayley Anderson with the cake

Move over Mary and Paul, it’s time for the Great Havering Bake-Off!

Yesterday, 13:16
An artist impression of Lidl's plans for the former Mecca Bingo building, Hornchurch   /Credit: Lidl

Supermarket chain Lidl has submitted a planning application to build a new store on the site of a historic cinema and former bingo hall.

Yesterday, 11:50
Cousins Mark Juby,Tom Bowman, Tony Boyton and Andy Rushmer cycled from Romford to Dorset in memory of their fireman grandad, Michael Green.

The memory of a much-loved grandad was honoured as four cousins completed a marathon cycle ride to raise money for charity.

Yesterday, 09:55
Havering Police is investigating after a video shows a boy being beaten up by a group of boys.

Thousands of pounds have been raised for an anti-bullying charity after a video showing a violent assault on a 15-year-old boy in a park went viral.

Yesterday, 09:36
The 20-year-old was left unconcious following the hit and run.

A hit-and-run victim has criticised the police over their handling of an investigation which has left her “life on standby”.

Yesterday, 07:58
Raja Rashid Ali, from Elm Park, was murdered on Sunday in Elm Park.

Police have released a picture of the man stabbed to death by an armed gang.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Kit yourself out and go Apple mad!

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

VW Golf Estate

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now