Love and Friendship

Surrey Wedding photograph - The Sketch, June 1918

Surrey Wedding photograph – The Sketch, June 1918. Captain Miles and Lady Evelyn Graham. Captain Graham was serving in the Household Cavalry and Lady Evelyn working as a nurse at Cane’s Hill Hospital. Source: Archive of the Illustrated London News

The First World War brought about huge changes in all aspects of private life and public attitudes. It put tremendous strain on relationships, as a result of separation, uncertainty and the brutal experience of warfare. As Vera Brittain wrote in Testament of Youth, the war created a “barrier of indescribable experience between men and the women they loved”.

The British Army Postal Service delivered around 2 billion letters during the war. In 1917 alone, over 19,000 mailbags crossed the English Channel each day, transporting letters and parcels to British troops on the Western Front. Examples of these letters to and from the front paint a vivid and touching picture of the emotional turmoil that many experienced.

Newspapers and magazines reported on “war weddings” of note, such as the example on the right. The Tatler carried a regular feature “Cupid in War Time” listing society marriages and engagements. The Bystander (August 1916) takes a more jaundiced view and suggests jokingly that “a National Society for the Control of War Marriages is set up without delay”.

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