How To Get Mail To POW’s In 1915

Friday, May 28, 1915

In trenches, Festubert

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day:  “Relieved at night by 13th Bn. R.H.C.  Retired to Reserve Trenches south of Rue du Bois and west of Rue de l’Epinette.”[1]

28 May 15THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY:  “The following instructions for correspondence with prisoners of war in Germany have been issued by the Canadian Post Office Department, and will be found of interest by all who have friends or relatives who have been captured during the present war, or who have been interned in Germany.

HOW TO ADDRESS COMMUNICATIONS: Letters, which should be left open, postcards and postal parcels should be addressed as follows:
1. Rank, initials, name.
2. Regiment, or other unit.
3. British (or Canadian, French, Belgian or Russian) prisoner of war.
4. Place of internment.
5. Germany
The place of internment should be stated always if possible, and parcels cannot be accepted unless places of internment is stated. All addresses must be in ink.

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ONLY: Communications should be limited to private and family news and to necessary business communications, and should not be sent too frequently. No references to the naval, military or political situation or to naval or military movements and organizations are allowed. Letters or post cards containing such references will not be delivered.

Friends of prisoners of war are advised to send postcards in preference to letters as postcards are less likely to be delayed. If letters are sent, they should not exceed in length two sides of a sheet of note paper, and should contain nothing but the sheet of note paper. On no account should the writing be crossed. Letters cannot for the present be accepted for registration.

NO POSTAGE NEED BE PAID: Postage need not be paid either on letters or parcels addressed to prisoners of war.

NO NEWSPAPERS ALLOWED: No letters should be enclosed in parcels and newspapers must not on any account be sent. So far as is known there is no restriction on the contents of parcels; tobacco may be sent and will be admitted duty free, but food stuffs of a perishable character should not be sent. Parcels should not exceed 11 lbs. in weight.

REMITTANCES MAY BE SENT: Remittances can be made by money order to prisoners of war. Instructions as to how to proceed can be obtained from Postmasters of Accounting Post Offices. The transmission of coin, either in letters or parcels, is expressly prohibited. Postal notes should not be sent.

It must be understood that no guarantee of the delivery of either parcels or letters can be given and that the Post Office accepts no responsibility. In any case, considerable delay may take place and failure to receive an acknowledgement should not necessarily be taken as an indication that letters and parcels sent have not been delivered.

PRISONERS MAY BE ALL RIGHT, EVEN IF THEY DON`T WRITE: So far as is known, prisoners of war in Germany are allowed to write letters or postcards from time to time; but they may not always have facilities for doing so and the fact that no communication is received from them need not give rise to anxiety.”

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, May 28, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa
[2]   “How To Get In Touch With Prisoners Of War,” The Quebec Telegraph, Quebec, Quebec, Thursday, May 20th, 1915, pg 4, col. 3.
[3]   Ibid.