Inside Our Collection – Christmas Greetings From France, 1917
In our small collection of exquisite embroidered greeting cards, or World War 1 Silks, is this wonderful Christmas card sent by John Henry (Harry) Keyte to his sister Sarah May (known as May) Louttit nee Keyte. In 1917 May and her husband Sid Louttit* were living at Kiora.
The postcard was sent from France on 18 October 1917. While it must have been extremely difficult for Harry to send this card from the trenches of the Western Front, it would have been received by his sister May with real joy and relief in the knowledge that her brother was still alive on the other side of the world.
The beautiful embroidery on these postcards, very popular during WW1, was produced by French women in their own homes, probably to provide some kind of income during these difficult times. Silk mesh was used to embroider the designs, which often featured floral designs, as well as flags and military insignia that were meaningful to the soldiers who bought and sent them. The embroidered silk was then sent to be mounted onto card at factories. According to the AWM, about ten million of these were made between 1915 and 1919. The soldiers used them to write home short notes to their wives, sisters, mothers and fathers.
Cards like this are important examples of personal communication from the the First World War. The fact that this card was preserved as a treasure within a family for so long, indicates how important such brief notes were to the family at home.
Harry Keyte (1882 – 1948)_
John Henry ( Harry) Keyte was born in Majors Creek in 1882. His parents were John Keyte and Sarah Keziah nee Cook. The Keyte family moved to Turlinjah, just opposite to the turn off to Tuross Head. when Harry was approx. 12.
Harry enlisted on 1 August 1915 and his unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A14 Euripides on 2 November 1915.
Harry returned to Australia in 1920 along with a war bride (Gladys Maud) from England and they were to have eight children.
Harry’s service records and his obituary mention long bouts of illness caused by the war; most likely caused through gassing.
He died on the 10 February, 1948 aged 66.
Left: This photo in uniform was apparently taken just before Harry left Australia for the war. It was sent from Egypt 30/11/1915.
* Sid and May Louutit bought the property “Braemar” in 1924. Read a previous post: Lost Moruya – Braemar Farm Homestead