From records held at the Norfolk Record Office. MC 3036
The popularity of albums, scrapbooks and autograph books during the First World War serves the historian well. They bring a visual perspective to the war and, in the case of postcards, express a sentimentality and emotion which may have been difficult to express in words.
While this blog uses only the photos and postcards from Alice Gooch’s photo album (MC 3036), there are many other such examples to be found at the Norfolk Record Office, some of which are included in the blog post on embroidered cards.
Alice was born in Norwich in 1893 and attended St Augustine’s School. She later worked as a machinist in the shoe industry. Alice’s album is a substantial book and it must be testimony to how well she was thought of by her colleagues because it was given as a birthday present in 1915 with the inscription:
Presented by the Workgirls
For her Birthday
August 9th 1915
Many postcards wished the recipient well, sending appropriate greetings to coincide with special events. The following postcard is ironic in its use of the swastika to send a good luck message given the events some twenty years later. The swastika, a derivation of the Sanskrit word svastika means good luck. The symbol had been used for thousands of years before Hitler adopted the symbol for the Nazi party.
This card was sent from Sid in France and reads: Just a few lines to let you know that I received a slight wound in right hand but it has healed up and am allright again & back with the Battalion.
None of Alice’s postcards or photos reveal names which allow us to find out who they were. Some names may have been family, there is one from Uncle George, while others have no connection with Norwich such as M MacLeod from the Cameron Highlanders. These were soldiers who Alice met while working at Bracondale Auxiliary War Hospital where she volunteered as a pantry maid at the weekends.
Two postcards appear to be linked although the connection to Alice is not clear. Both are from different members of the same family – the Ruscoes from Lancashire.
This postcard was sent to Alice from Miss Ruscoe of Southport as part of the “Girls Friend Exchange”.
This postcard was sent from A Ruscoe. There are records showing an A Ruscoe serving in the Lancashire Fusiliers who was invalided out of the Army after being wounded in France in 1918.
Alice’s album also contains several photos. Again, we have some names but know nothing else about them.
The back of this photo has the name ‘Harry Newman’. It would be lovely to know which one he is and what happened to him.
Who is this young man standing proudly in his uniform?
The back reads: With fond love Freddie.
Alice’s album captures a period in time when an uncertain future strengthened friendships through correspondence and photos. Her album continued for some time after the war.
Compiled by Daryl Long, NRO Research Blogger