# Some soldiers were so desperate for a wartime lady penfriend that they even placed advertisements in the newspapers!

Some soldiers were so desperate for a wartime lady penfriend that they even placed advertisements in the newspapers!  - Private collection, M. Freddy Billiet ©

Some soldiers were so desperate for a wartime lady penfriend that they even placed advertisements in the newspapers! - Private collection, M. Freddy Billiet ©

To provide the soldiers with moral support, various private or official initiatives, such as the Oeuvre des Marraines de Guerre, arranged to provide a wartime lady penfriend with whom the soldiers could discuss their feelings and find some degree of comfort. Some of these relationships remained friendly and short-lived, others turned into true love stories, but all of them marked the correspondents on both sides.

These lady penfriends would be the recipients of their concerns and joys, helping to break the almost exclusively male isolation in which the soldiers lived.

Many of them would come to ask for a lady penfriend. Some of them indicated a preference, as though turning to a marriage broker. With the demand for lady penfriends far exceeding the supply, the Oeuvre des Marraines de Guerre had to look abroad. In the spring of 1917, the Belgian consulates and embassies abroad served as the linchpins for this moral support operation, launching calls for lady penfriends for soldiers in the American press, including the “New York Herald” and the “Washington Post”. These calls were answered by American women, who wrote to the embassy and expressed their desire to support the Belgian soldiers despite the distance. Some soldiers, too impatient or with only relative confidence in the military hierarchy, would go so far as to personally attempt to contact American press organisations, or the "director general of the American post office”. Naturally, these attempts were in vain, and intercepted by the Correspondence Office!

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