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7173: Two Embroidered Postcards

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posted on 2024-01-18, 10:42 authored by Lest We Forget Project Team

The story is centred on two embroidered postcards that have been kept in the family. Exactly who the senders were has long been a mystery. They were in the possession of William Smith (1879-1964). He kept them in a little wooden book-shaped box which he brought with him when he came to live with my parents in the 1960s. They must have been important to him as they were among the few possessions he brought along.

One was sent to Mrs. Smith at Ladymires, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is signed "The old Keeper", with no name. It does have on it "No 408287 Sap G. B. R. E. Base, Rouen France". The postcard is not dated.

I can identify Mrs. Smith. Her forenames were Mary Ann. Her husband, William, and my great grandfather, Peter, were brothers. My great grandfather and his wife, Jane, lived at Allathan Cottage in Maud, right opposite what was the mart. They are listed in the 1891 and 1901 censuses at that address. In the 1861 and 1871 censuses both Peter and William are listed at Mains of Allathan along with their parents and siblings.

The postcard makes reference to Bill. This is William Smith (1879-1964) mentioned above. He was known as Willie. He was the son of Mary Ann and William Smith. I have a photograph of Willie which I took myself. I have a photograph of Mary Ann Smith which Willie brought with him when he came to stay with us.

Recent research has found Sapper George Bremner with Regimental Number 408287 in the Roll of Individuals entitled to the Victory Medal and British War Medal (found on Ancestry, records from the National Archives). The roll is dated 1919. The Regiment or Corps is given as the Royal Engineers. The entry for George Bremner also indicates that he served in R. E. (T) with regimental number 463. T presumably indicates the Territorial Force. Searches of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site and of "soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919" for George Bremner with regimental number 408287 have produced nil results. The conclusion is that he did survive the war. I recollect some talk in the family about a George Bremner. So we now know that the sender of the postcard was George Bremner.

The second postcard is addressed to Elsie, dated 2.4.16 and signed 'Yrs A Armstrong'. I remember my family talking about Mr Armstrong. The writing on the two postcards is different. Elsie was the daughter of William (my great grandfather's brother, mentioned above) and Mary Ann, and was second youngest of 7 children. Elsie was born on 17/10/1881. The family lived at Mill of Allathan and later at Ladymires, both Ellon area.

But who was Mr Armstrong? So far enquiries have failed to provide an answer to this question.


Name of contributor(s)

Jean McCurrach

Subject of the story/individual the object(s) relate to

George Bremner. Sapper, Royal Engineers.

Date(s) the event(s) in the story took place


Location(s) where the event(s) in the story took place

France. Rouen, France.


1. Embroidered postcard from George Bremner to Mrs. Smith, Ladymires, Ellon, Aberdeenshire. 1 image. 2. Embroidered postcard from A Armstrong to Elsie dated 02/04/1916. 1 image. 3. Photograph of William Smith (1879-1964) taken about 1960. 1 image. 4. Photograph of Mary Ann Smith (b 1847). 1 image.

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Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen (27/02/19)

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