Döberitz, Germany: 1915-1919.
[WWI] Collection of Letters from POW British Navy Soldier to Welsh Nurse Döberitz, Germany: 1915-1919. 41 pieces of WWI correspondence: 25 hand-written postcards, 14 hand-written letters, 1 Easter card, 1 photographic postcard of soldier Roberts. All written from William F.J. Roberts, a member of the Royal Navy Division of the British Army, a prisoner of war in Germany, to Kathleen Touzel Wynne-Edwards, a nurse from North Wales, UK (with the exception of one letter, which was written to Kathleen from Roberts' father.) Most written on Kriegsgefangenensendung "prisoner of war mail" postcards or letterhead issued by Döberitz, a few on blank paper, mostly written in pencil with the others in ink. Generally very good, with some toning and soiling, a few with tears to edges. William F.J. Roberts was a member of the Royal Navy Division of the British Army during World War I. The group notably participated in battles at Antwerp in 1914 and Gallipoli in 1915. Roberts was captured by the German Army following the Seige of Antwerp in 1914 and subsequently became a prisoner of war. He was detained at Döberitz, a military training camp in Germany that later housed POWs, and he endured the length of the Great War there. From September 6, 1915 - February 16, 1919, Roberts wrote to Kathleen Wynne-Edwards (née Touzel), a devoted and patriotic nurse from North Wales. In addition to their correspondence, Kathleen sent Roberts care packages containing food, clothes, and cigarettes. Additionally, she helped find correspondents for Roberts' fellow prisoners and assisted in war-relief efforts on the home front. Kathleen continued to write to Roberts through the war's end in 1918, her devotion not wavering even after getting married to John Wynne-Edwards in 1916 and giving birth to two daughters. In addition to chronicling the correspondence between a POW and a nurse, this collection of letters demonstrates the decomposition of romantic conceptions of war and the subsequent disillusionment that shaped the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s-1930s. Roberts is hopeful in his earliest letters to Kathleen, asking for cakes, clothing and cigarettes, and telling her of his pre-war civilian life. As his imprisonment extends, Roberts becomes less concerned about the food parcels Kathleen sends and more about the emotional sustenance of their friendship and communication. As the war continued well beyond its intended duration, soldiers on both sides became increasingly convinced that WWI would serve no purpose, leading to an increased disparity between the presentation of the war on the homefront and trench reality. Döberitz, a military training camp in Germany, was first used as a site for militaristic purposes in the 18th century. After the outbreak of World War I, a temporary prisoner of war camp was erected on the outskirts of Döberitz. By 1915, the complex included two newly erected buildings to house the increasing number of POWs. Before the war's end in November 1918, Döberitz would house more than 30,000 prisoners from seven different nations. Related People: Roberts, William F. J. - English soldier of the Royal Navy Division Wynne-Edwards, Kathleen Violet M. (née Touzel) - Welsh Red Cross nurse Roberts, J. - father of William F. J. Roberts Wynne-Edwards, Lieutenant-Colonel John Copner - married Kathleen Touzel in 1916 I. 1915 1. Roberts, William F.J. Four handwritten postcards and three handwritten letters addressed to Kathleen Touzel, from September 6 - December 26, 1915. In these letters, Roberts briefly introduces himself by referencing his involvement in the 1914 Seige of Antwerp and his home in Gloucestershire, England, where he resided with his parents. He also profusely thanks Kathleen for her parcels and makes several request for socks and other clothing items. 2. Roberts, J. One handwritten letter to Kathleen Touzel, December 15, 1915. J. Roberts writes to Kathleen to thank her for the kindness and devotion she has shown his son William F.J. Roberts. He explains how his son became a prisoner of war. II. 1916 3. Roberts, William F.J. Six handwritten postcards and five handwritten letters addressed to Kathleen Touzel, from January 24 - October 23, 1916. Includes one envelope not associated with any of the letters. In these letters, Roberts primarily thanks Kathleen for her parcels and makes specific requests for butter, bacon, and cigarettes, among other commodities. Notably, Roberts' letter from May 29th was censored by the Döberitz authorities and has one line crossed out in a heavy purple crayon. III. 1917 4. Roberts, William F.J. Seven handwritten postcards to Kathleen Wynne-Edwards, from January 21 - December 8, 1917. Includes one envelope addressed to Kathleen Touzel not associated with any of the letters. In the first postcard in this series, Roberts congratulates Kathleen on her marriage to Lieutenant-Colonel John Copner Wynne-Edwards. One postcard is a parcel evaluation form in which Roberts responds to questions about the conditions and regularity of the mail he receives. IV. 1918 5. Roberts, William F.J. Eight handwritten postcards and one handwritten letter addressed to Kathleen Wynne-Edwards, from February 10 - December 6, 1918. Four postcards are parcel evaluation forms. The other four postcards and the handwritten letter are Roberts' standard correspondence. 6. Roberts, William F.J. Easter Greetings from Doeberitz 1918. Special Döberitz-issued Easter postcard with a color relief illustration of a soldier named Tommy and naval officer named Jack flanking a rhyming poem. Notably, this poem is indicative of the black humor that was popular among WWI soldiers. In this verse, when Jack asks "d'you think that we, at home for Eastertide will be," Tommy declares "If you want to know, we've another 30 years to go," to which Jack responds "That's blooming hard, so let's go home on this Easter Card." 7. Roberts, William F.J. Photograph Postcard. Postcard with a sepia photograph of Roberts in his full uniform. V. 1919 8. Roberts, William F.J. Handwritten Letter addressed to Kathleen Wynne-Edwards, February 16, 1919. Roberts writes from Gloucestershire, England, where he is "enjoying [himself] greatly after that four years of misery." He describes his discharge from the military and states his plans to meet with Kathleen, who was by then the mother of two daughters. He concludes by thanking Kathleen not only for her generosity towards him but for all the nurses' efforts to boost the morale of the overseas troops. He writes, "I may say that if it had not been for a few of you kind Lady's I am sure that half the men would never have reached the Old Shores of course including the Red Cross Society." VI. Undated 9. Roberts, William F.J. Handwritten Letters. One addressed to Kathleen Touzel, one addressed to Kathleen Wynne-Edwards, and one addressed simply to "Madamme" [sic]. Written on standard plain paper, these letters are slightly longer and more in depth than Roberts' letters on the prison camp stock papers. Notably, Roberts elaborates on his unhappiness as a prisoner of war, describing the sadness he feels when Kathleen stops sending parcels, making wistful remarks such as "I only wish I were lying on some sands somewhere else" and "I only wish that I were the same as you, just going out with your freedom & liberty."