Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Postcards from Egypt on ANZAC day

I have mentioned Grandma Nellie on this blog quite a lot, because she recently gave me her stamp collection. However, she gave me another gift several years ago, before I travelled to Egypt, which I treasure perhaps even more than the stamps. She gave me two souvenir postcard books her father sent back to his sister from Egypt during World War I, while he was serving in the Australian Light Horse Brigade.

As today is ANZAC day, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase these beautiful postcard books. These postcards have been passed down to me because 98 years ago, a young man from rural Victoria went all the way across the world to spend four years of his life apart from his family and friends and the security of his home to fight a distant war.

Grandma Nellie speaks often and warmly of her kind father, 'Pa-sie' (as in Pa, but with an affectionate flourish of an added "sie/sey": I have no idea how to spell that) and so I cherish these little tokens I have from him.

I love that the Port Said book has a thumbnail image and a place to record to whom you sent the corresponding card!
I find the postcard books absolutely the most stunning items of ephemera, and I love the exotic images within the covers, and the texture of the pages, and the fact that there are sheets of fine tissue paper between each card.

These postcards conjure for me a romanticised past: I can't help it, but I see them and imagine men with bushy moustaches in nice white linen suits (and oh golly - I bet one or two wore a pith helmet and a safari suit!) exploring amazing places on the edges of the 'civilised world' -or beyond the British Empire. I love the fictional world I see in these postcard images, and wish that I could travel there.

The stark reality is, of course, that these postcards have come to me after being sent home from a war, and there is nothing romantic, exotic or beautiful about that. But I still love these postcard books, and have had them tucked away for several years, so it is really nice to get them out and truly appreciate them today. Thank you Pasie.

Lest we forget. 


  1. Darling Helen,
    your passion for these beautiful treasures is tangible and I'm sure that Pa-sie would be thrilled to have a great-grand-daughter experiencing a closer link to him through these momentos of his sojourn in Egypt in the Light Horse Brigade. These pictures help, in their own way, to diffuse the horrors of war, because they depict real people and places as they were at the time, living their normal lives...not on the battlefield, but on the streets and in their homes.
    I also think Pa-sie would thankyou for sharing them with us....Their very existance helps to validate his time spent away from his family fighting a war in a foreign land.(And I imagine the same could be said for many other soldiers in similar circumstances).
    I can't help wondering just how many more of these wonderful treasures you might have tucked away.
    I have to remind you that it was the Stereograph 3D images of pyramids and camels etc that Pa-sie brought home, that triggered my own passion for such things....Perhaps you can feature these in your blog one day.
    With love and thanks,
    Pa-sie's Grand-daughter, Di.

  2. Hi Helen

    I enjoyed your blog so much today especially being overseas and away from the traditional Anzac day service. The post card books look amazing and its always nice to have keepsakes from from the past, I can't wait for next weeks episode.

  3. Thanks Sandra! I am really glad that you liked this week's blog. You may have noticed, but I am a total sucker for a keepsake from the past! Thanks for again stopping by and commenting! I love your positive feedback!!

  4. I love this and would love to have the honour of seeing these postcards one day! Johanna x

  5. You have shared the cards, they are really wonderful. And I really like this card, You have provided the wonderful information and it is very important.
    Thank you so much for this


  6. Many people will get lot of benefits by reading such kind of informational stuff .Thank you so much for this .


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