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image icon Postcard sent from France by Duncan McCallum, 1917

Postcard sent from France by Duncan McCallum, 1917
Postcard sent from France by Duncan McCallum, 1917
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a postcard sent from France to Alex and Bess McCallum on 1 February 1917 by Alex's brother Duncan who was serving with the 16th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces. The card is embroidered in coloured silk with a floral design and the words 'Souvenir from France'. It measures 14 cm x 9 cm.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset is an example of the beautiful silk embroidered cards made by French women for sale to foreign soldiers stationed in France in the First World War - the postcard is in French and English, with the words 'Carte Postale' and 'Postcard' on the back; it is marked as made in France: 'Fabrication Francaise - R. R. Paris'; the embroidered designs typically took from four to eight hours to complete and earned several francs if sold direct to a soldier; women working for a postcard producer received much less for their work.
  • This asset is an example of a postcard from a soldier serving with the Australian Imperial Forces in France in the First World War to his family back home - Dunk (Duncan) McCallum gave his address as 6303 16 Batt France and sent the card to his brother Alex and Alex's wife Bess, who lived in Fremantle, Western Australia.
  • This asset reveals something of the feelings and attitudes of a young soldier in a foreign country who has not yet experienced battle - Duncan McCallum writes of his health and the weather, but his words also reveal the coming fight: 'Just a card to let you know I received yours yesterday. I am leaving for the firing line in the morning. I am keeping well, but the cold is something awful. Will write again when I have had a go at Fritz. Let mum know you received this. With best love Dunk'.
  • This asset suggests that the mail sent by servicemen on active duty was subject to censorship and that care was taken to ensure no details that could assist the enemy were mentioned - Duncan's postcard was sent from 'Somewhere in France' and no information about his movements or whereabouts is revealed.
  • This asset was sent to Alex McCallum (1877-1935), who was a significant member of the Western Australian labour movement at the time - as General Secretary of the Australian Labour Federation in WA (1911-21) Alex McCallum campaigned strongly against conscription for overseas service in the First World War; his brother Duncan was serving as a volunteer in France at the time.