Handwritten letter card addressed to Miss E (Elsie) Dean from her father, William Henry Dean, 39th Battalion, while on passage to England in May 1916.

Dean, a bricklayer from Auburn in Melbourne, enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) on 23 December 1915; he was 35 years old. Corporal Dean embarked for active service on the 'Ascanius' on 27 May 1916. Soon after arriving in Britain, Dean contracted acute Bronchial Catarrh and on 23 October 1916 was admitted to a military hospital in the seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset, where he was declared unfit for active service. Dean returned home to Melbourne on the HMATS 'Wiltshire' on 12 November 1916. On 2 March 1917 he requested discharge from the AIF which was granted on 15 March 1917.

In 1934 Dean applied for a copy of his original Certificate of Discharge and RS Badge having lost them 'in or near Surrey Hills, Victoria 8 years before'. He died soon after leaving an approved war pension to his wife, three sons and two daughters.

Throughout the letter Dean expresses only the highest praise of living conditions aboard the 'Ascanius', as he succinctly describes the 'good food' and quarters, plentiful entertainment and 'glorious' weather that which he so relishes in everyday life aboard the ship. He fears that much will change upon arrival in England, which was prescient given he contracted Bronchial Catarrh shortly after arrival. At the end of the letter Dean wishes his daughter Elsie 'many happy returns' for her recent 18th birthday.

The letter and a kit bag were donated by his daughter in 1986.

Physical Description

Unlined letter card, printed and stamped inscriptions on obverse and reverse sides, ink inscriptions within.

More Information

  • Collection Names

    Military Memorabilia Collection

  • Collecting Areas

    Public Life & Institutions

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Mrs B. Lewis, 07 May 1986

  • Author

    William H. Dean, May 1916

  • Addressed To

    Miss Elsie Dean, Freeman Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, May 1916

  • Inscriptions

    Printed on obverse: ON ACTIVE SERVICE./ LETTER CARD./ For GRATUITOUS distribution among the men at the front./ DO NOT SEAL THIS DOWN but pass to the censor . Stamped in red ink on obverse: PASSED BY CENSOR Printed on reverse: God bless our splendid men,/ Send them safe home again,/ God save our men./ Keep them victorious,/ Patient and chivalrous,/ They are so dear to us,/ God save our men./ From the staff of the Commonwealth Stamp Printing Office, Australia. Handwritten in ink on inside of letter card: At sea Dear Elsie I am writing this in my bunk and it is a glorious day in fact every day is a sameness we could do with a real good storm to wake us up a bit we have good food and plenty good quarters and well looked after plenty of games and concerts I am afraid there will be a difference when we get home to England. Now your 18th Berthay [sic] has past since I left home so I wish you many happy returns and remain your loving Father

  • Classification

    Military history, Personal effects, Correspondence

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    135 mm (Width), 167 mm (Height)

  • Keywords

    Correspondence, Hospitals, Military History, World War I, 1914-1918