Messages from the trenches

Private Keith Armer with the embroidered postcards that are part of ‘Postcards from the Great War’ exhibition at Cambridge Museum.

An exhibition of World Ward One postcards sent to a local family and highlighting their wartime tragedy is at the centre of an exhibition at Cambridge Museum running until April 30.

The silk embroidered postcards were sent by the Armer brothers to their loved ones in Cambridge in 1917. The notes from France have been beautifully preserved by the Tihema family and are on loan to Cambridge Museum during April as part of Anzac commemorations.

Their inclusion the ‘Postcards from the Great War’ exhibition is the first time they have been displayed. The Tihema family is delighted they are on show at the museum. They said the postcards were given to their mother Joan Joyce/Tihema by her mother, Doll, and they mean a great deal as they tell part of the family’s story.

The Armer brothers write about their lives as soldiers, rarely mentioning the dangers of life in the trenches, choosing rather to talk about what might be happening at home, referencing jokes about the family dog and gossip about weddings in town.

The family’s ancestors John and Alice Armer lived in Leamington’s Goldsmith St for many years. They had four boys and four girls who attended Leamington Primary School. Three of the boys went to war – Keith, Harry and Kenneth. The latter two made it home and lived into the 1960s but Keith was declared missing in action during a July 1917 battle in France.

Cambridge Museum manager Elizabeth Harvey said being able to share these stories was a vital part of the museum’s role.

“Our history is so much more engaging when it’s about people and places, not just dates,” she said. “We’re so grateful to the Tihema family for lending us their family taonga and look forward to telling more family stories within our displays in future.”

‘Postcards from the Great War’ will be on display at the museum until April 30. It can also be viewed online at

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