In our series The Great War – Through a London Child’s Eye, we’re following “The Private Diary of Edward Hampton” to learn about life as a child in London at the outbreak of the First World War.
Back in 1914, there wasn’t such a thing as the internet, or mobile phones, or even TVs! So how did families keep in touch and how did they know what was going on in the war?
Letters and postcards
These were an important way to keep in touch with soldiers on the front-line.
They would also help to boost morale as the soldiers would be cheered up by learning about life back home!
The soldiers would write replies but tended to not mention much about the fighting as they didn’t want their families to know how terrible things were in the trenches.
Plus, all letters were read by censors who would remove parts they thought could give secret information away to the enemy!
Telegrams were a fast way to send important news for people without telephones.
An operator would tap the message out in code using a machine called a Morse key. The message travelled to another operator who decoded the long and short taps into words, and then passed the message on to be delivered.
Delivering telegrams was a very serious matter – delivery boys and girls cycled very fast to get the message to the address on the envelope and waited in case the person receiving the message wanted to reply.
Sometimes, the envelope had a special mark and the delivery boy or girl knew not to wait because it was bad news and there would be no reply.
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The Great War – Through a London Child’s Eye is supported by The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.