Mystery Postcard

Q. I bought a postcard and I am very interested to learn more about the author, a recently promoted to Corporal Hallett. It was written in 1912 and it says: 

“My Dear Flo, I am now going to be a corporal as I have now been promoted. Don’t forget to tell us when you’re going to bring George to see us. How do you like this card? The wedding went off all right. So where are you going Easter I am going to Chislehurst to the boys camp if it is fine. Maude is coming I am going to try and get her off with one of the big (??) boys. I am off with one already. So with love to you both. From your affectionate sister, I sign myself for the last time Lance Corporal Hallett.”

The date looks like April 11 1912. I think it was posted in Poplar and that’s where the Hallett ma and pa and kids lived. The married sister is Florence Cason. 

I have further details if anyone can help me. What I am really interested in is the camp in Chislehurst to which she refers; I don’t know what it is.

A.  This mystery prompted an exchange of e mails as follows – I don’t immediately know of a camp here in the village but there were plenty of large houses that would have accommodated youth and summer camps.  In WW2 Dads Army ‘camped’ at Scadbury Park as it offered vantage points and shelter in an old house.   I have also checked our wonderful book ‘Edwardian Chislehurst‘ but no references to camps particularly I’m afraid.

Just an off beam thought, could Corporal Hallett have been in the Salvation Army?  What ranks do they have? Colonel and Major certainly…….the sort of organisation that would have had ‘Boys camps’…

I looked at the Salvation Army and they don’t actually have the rank of Corporal, so I ruled that one out.. but I may have made a mistake. Also Girls and Boys’ Brigade, but no Corporals in the girls. It’s been suggested nursing yeomanry, but then the boys’ camp doesn’t make sense. It may be a red herring, who knows… 

I can only offer you further supposition having asked around.  We know that St John’s Ambulance was newly established in Chislehurst in 1910 but not where…..

Our other offering is that the Hawkwood Estate, on Botany Bay Lane beyond Coopers was the home of the local squire, Col Edelman. He regularly held fundraising events in his garden; fetes and flower shows, he was also a benefactor of the local scouting movement. If anyone was going to have a camp on their land it would very likely have been the Colonel.

None of this is concrete for you but it’s the best we can offer until that magic find which may yet turn up.

Our local studies in Bromley Library hold newspapers and records from that era which could be worth a visit some time.