Sunday, October 31, 2010

And Now a Word from King George V

One of the cooler mementos of the Great War, or World War I as it has become known, is this letter written by King George V, and given to more than a million soldiers in April 1918. The letter was printed by lithography most likely, simulating the King's handwriting, and is printed on actual royal stationery. I'm sure my grandfather was quite tickled to receive this, as he saved it and brought it back after the war. The scan above is large enough to easily read if you click on it, but here's the text anyway:

Soldiers of the United States, the people of the British Isles welcome you on your way to take your stand beside the Armies of many nations now fighting in the Old World the great battle for human freedom.

The Allies will gain new heart and spirit in your company. I wish that I could shake the hand of each one of you and bid you Godspeed on your mission.

George R.I.

How great is this? It's polite, it's to the point, it's as personal as something like this could be, it's heartfelt, it's something you would never see done today by any leader. Whomever wrote it in today's world would find it used as "opposition research" and you'd be hard-pressed to find any national leader actually willing to take responsibility for anything.

In doing a bit of research for this post, it seems this letter was given to each soldier in a matching envelope, which I don't seem to have, but you know what I'm going to say: It's probably around here somewhere!


  1. Nice stationery! I guess when you're the king all you need is the name of your castle for mail to get to you. Not to mention when that's your own picture on the stamp.
    I didn't know about this letter. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. That's great Casey. George V was evidently a stand-up guy! Our next door neighbor growing up, served in France during the Great War and when he was over 100 (he lived to 106), he got a citation from the President of France, given to him at some sort of ceremony hosted by the French ambassador, thanking him for his service. He would show it at the slightest provocation! He lived alone and drove his 79 Pontiac every day until he was 105. At that point, his son insisted he move to the veterans home where he died shortly thereafter.

    Paul, NYC

  3. I love this historical piece your brought to your blog.
    The Great War was an interesting time for both here and abroad and all due to alliances and assassination committed by the Black Hand Society.

    Archduke Ferdinand's chauffer was Mr. Porsche himself
    who witness the assassination first hand.