Poignant postcard to soldier killed in WWI

Reverse of the postcard sent to Carrick man, Private Allen Davey, who was killed in action during WWI.
Reverse of the postcard sent to Carrick man, Private Allen Davey, who was killed in action during WWI.

A poignant postcard to a Carrickfergus soldier who was killed in action during World War One is just one of hundreds featured in an online collection.

Part of The Army Children Archive's (TACA) 'Army Children of the First World War' project, the card was sent to Private Allen Davey by his wife, Sarah and daughter Lilla.

During the First World War, an enormous number of British children became ‘temporary’ army children when their civilian fathers joined the British Army as volunteers or conscripts.

"A significant proportion of British families today will count such children among their ancestors, but may not appreciate fully how having a soldier father affected the lives - psychologically, as well as practically - of their antecedents. Having a father who is a peacetime soldier colours a childhood, as many an army child would confirm," TACA notes.

"So having a soldier father when one’s childhood coincides with a world war and a period of national crisis cannot fail to have an impact, from the daily sadness of missing an absent parent through the euphoric joy of reunion, however fleeting, to the trauma inflicted by a father’s injury or death."

TACA highlights the plight of the army children of the First World War primarily via online galleries on photo sharing site Flickr, with Pte Davey's postcard one of the many images featured.

Showing an image of a child writing at a desk, with marching soldiers appearing above, the card carries a short message to the young father.

It reads: "Dear Dad, received your P.C. to-day sorry to hear you are gone up the line again. Lilla is being a good girl but daddy is a queer long time coming. With fondest Love from Lilla & Mummy xxxxxxxxxxX." A postscript adds: "Did you not get the baccy before you moved. I suppose not."

Poignantly, a printed verse on the front says: "‘I’m proud of Daddy, Mummy is too, so I am sending some kisses for you."

While the card itself has been franked, the postmark is largely illegible.

Research by TACA has revealed Allen Davey served first as a private in the North Irish Horse, and then in Princess Victoria’s Royal Irish Fusiliers.

The son of Mr and Mrs W J Davey of Dunluskin in Carrickfergus, he married Sarah Elliott Patterson in 1912.

The couple settled in the town and he enlisted in the British Army in Belfast in 1915.

He was killed in action in Flanders on April 19, 1918, aged 30.

Pte Davey has no known grave; he is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

The original postcard is currently stored as part of The Army Children Archive, said TACA founder Clare Gibson. "It was bought online some time ago to add to the archive's First World War project, on account of the child/soldier/father imagery on the front," she added.

"It was only when preparing to post it on Flickr and Europeana 1914–1918 last week that we read message on the reverse and researched Private A Davey, using such sources as the National Archives and Ancestry.

"It would be wonderful if anyone could tell us more about Allen, Sarah and their daughter Lilla."

The front of the postcard can be viewed on the TACA online gallery, while more information about the overall project is available at The Army Children of the First World War website.