This artefact is a wallet. Christmas is a traditional time of joy and laughter, and enjoying the company of family and friends. However, in December 1917 such qualities would have been in short supply as the horror of World War I dragged on.
This wallet was a Christmas gift from the YMCA to New Zealand soldier Donald Cottle who was fighting as an infantryman on the Western Front. It is printed with the image of a Kiwi and the words ‘In the field, France, Xmas 1917’. The New Zealand Division on the Western Front had just endured the disastrous Battle of Passchendeale which claimed the lives of hundreds of men – 1917’s Christmas would have seen many grieving families. Tragically 1917’s Christmas was to be Donald Cottle’s last; he was killed in action at La Cateau, France, in October 1918.
Thoughts turn to our soldiers currently separated from family and friends, and the hope that they will be safe and comforted by the knowledge their sacrifices are appreciated during this very special time of the year.
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