Weddings, Bands and Anything!
The Memorial holds a small collection of paper napkin souvenirs from the era of the First World War. Printed on crepe paper from Japan, their fragility defies their survival for over 90 years.
Here is a napkin printed for the wedding of Lieutenant Colonel Athelstan Markham Martyn DSO, RAE (Royal Australian Engineers) to Miss Stella Swifte at St Mary Abbot's Church in Kensington, London, on 21 October 1916.
Paper napkins were a popular form of advertising from the mid 19th century in England. This method of promotion was also adopted in Australia. The Canowindra Town Band in New South Wales played a benefit in support of the Belgian Fund. It was an international programme with ‘Rule Britannia', ‘La Marseillaise' and the ‘Tipperary' march on the bill. The napkin contains the message ‘Every programme sold means a loaf of bread to starving Belgians.'
From weddings and bands to prize fights and flights over the Atlantic, paper napkins contained advertisements for anything and everything. A ‘Visit of the British Tank’ to persuade the British public to buy National War Bonds or War Savings Certificates is recorded on the napkin shown below. Pictured is a British Mk IV Male tank, circa 1917. After the tour, the tank was ‘sent to the Front to send a different kind of message to the enemy.’
The Memorial has 'GRIT', a Mk IV Female tank armed with Lewis machine guns. (See RELAWM05040.001)
These napkins are one of the more unusual forms of material held in our souvenir collections. Other popular souvenir items include: programmes for concerts and commemorative and sporting events, tickets, badges, invitations, menus and food labels.