War Letters to Joyce 1941
Original digital file
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This is the first in a series of 5 sets of personal letters from Doctor Allan Ballantyne, held prisoner-of-war in Europe, to his wife Joyce, in New Zealand.
Each letter or postcard is displayed in date order of writing.
From the start of interment until mid October 1941, letters were written on a single sheet of paper then placed into an envelope, now rather fragile after so many years, then posted through a prisoner of war mail service for eventual delivery in New Zealand.
From late October 1941 until the end of interment, mail was generally written on one side of an “aerogram”-style sheet of lightweight paper that was then folded and sealed into an envelope shape, for posting. A full picture of the address side of one of these letters is displayed for interest, thereafter only the main address panel is shown for ease of reading.
In addition to these styles of letters, occasional “postcards” were produced within the prison camps, for mailing by prisoners. Examples are sometimes found in the weeks preceding Christmas.
Due to the long delivery times experienced with correspondence being transported between Germany and New Zealand and vice versa, it was difficult for either to know where the other might be living or incarcerated. The most commonly used address for mail being sent to New Zealand was “229 Main Road, Ravensbourne, Dunedin, New Zealand”.
Changes start to occur early in the war when one finds mail being redirected to “Craighead, Timaru, Canterbury”, although no mention has been noted in the correspondence as to what Joyce may have been doing at that location. Other addresses occur from time to time before Joyce started working as a radiographer at Cook Hospital, Gisborne, where mail was initially redirected before this becoming the regular address.
Postmark dates can be confusing as they reflect the dates when each piece of mail passed through the various postal services. The letter writing date may be substantially earlier than the NZ postmark dates, depending upon the circuitous route that mail travelled.
To assist readers with understanding address details, commonly-seen German terms with suggested English equivalents, suggested by “Google Translate” are listed below.
Word or Label Meaning
Kriegsgefangenenpost POW mail
Postkarte Post Card
Taxe perçue Perceived tax
Par Avion By plane, by airmail
Gebührenfrei Free of charge
Vor – und Zuname First and Last names (of recipient)
Empfangsort Receiving location (the street address)
Straße Street (usually contains suburb or area name)
Kreis District (Usually displays name of city/town)
Landesteil Part of the country (Usually contains the name of the country to which the mail is being sent)
Provinz usw Province etc (generally unused)
Gefangenennummer Prisoner number
Lager-Bezeichnung Camp designation
Stammlager Main prison camp