Fabulous fashions photographed New York in March 1940 –
Category Archives: Women
Imagine inheriting diamond jewellery – a lot of diamond jewellery….and during WWII. Would you keep it or turn it over to the war effort?
As a royal I suppose you’d need to keep a few, and anyway personally owned diamonds could not be taken by London’s Diamond Comittee during the War, according to this article from February 1940.
Of course Holland was invaded two months later, in May 1940, so let’s hope the diamonds did travel to England the the US.
This article from October 1938 shows that some smart (and obviously rich) people were already thinking ahead about war and investing in diamonds. There are interesting comments about Jewish people too, and how diamonds were easily transported across “unfriendly borders”.
Unfortunaltely diamonds did not save many, if any, Jews from persecution and execution. Many had sewn their diamonds and other jewels into their clothing, and these were routinely removed from clothing after the Jews were murdered at the concentration camps. There are accounts of diamonds being moved to a vault in banks in France in order to provide “rainy day” money for nazi officials to make new lives for themselves after the war.
Of course this article could have been just part of De Beers 1938 American marketing campaign encouraging people to by diamond engagement rings – a campaign that was obviously extremely sucessful, with a jump in US diamond sales of 55% in the four years between 1938 and 1941 – but then again I haven’t actually been able to find any Debeers ads from before 1948, so maybe it was the war……
I did find this ad from 1938 for an Australian Jeweller, which advertises diamond rings, and watches, as anniversay gifts rather than engagement rings.
I now work in a an antique jewellery store and find it interesting that many couples are now buying diamond bands for their wedding bands, as well as diamond engagement rings. Debeers really did well…..
Read more about diamonds in WWII here.
We hear a lot about ‘Make do and Mend’ during Wartime, especially when clothing rationing was in effect, but maybe you haven’t heard about sewing bees. Quilting Bees were popular in America in the early 1800’s, as a way for women to meet others and tackle large quilts that would be cumbersome by themselves. They provided socialization, friendship, wisdom and sharing of supplies and tools, and basically involved a group of women getting together and sewing.
The first mention I have found of a wartime Sewing Bee is in this article from December 1939 –Red Cross Sewing Bees see to become popular in Australia. Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) was probably the one who began to make Sewing Bees popular in England and Australia during the War, forming a Red Cross Sewing Bee for the women of the royal household at the palace each week from as early as November 1939. You can also watch a little video her Great Sewing Bee of 1939 here.
This article from the American Woman’s Weekly in March 1942 is a little different, as rationing is not really mentioned, and the ladies are sewing more for themselves than the troops, but it is interesting to ‘see’ these ladies in action at their sewing bee.
Sewing Bees are obviously meant to be a cooperative event. There is a recent British TV show called ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ which is a reality TV contest type show, which to me loses the point of sewing bees, but you can watch it here.
Have you joined a Sewing Bee or thought of doing so? Tips for joining an online sewing bee can be found here.
Oh joy, the new scanner has arrived. Unfortunately I am still learning it’s secrets, but at least its a start. I can finally start sharing some images from 1940’s magazines loaned to me by a wonderful reader. First this Magazine from March 1942 –
What a sweet cover I can’t seem to find detail of it in the magazine, but she looks as if she has just had some bad news….
One of my favourite ads in this magazine is this one of Olviia de Havilland – love that hairstyle!
I’ll share more ads on the tumblr blog and try and scan a few interesting articles for next time.
I am in between scanners at present, so here is one Post I prepared earlier…
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was the Prime Minister of the UK for most of WWII, from 1940 to 1945 (and again from 1951 to 1955). He is often stated as being one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century, and his radio broadcasts help inspire the British people during the war. His children also did their bit to help the war effort.
Churchill’s only son, Randolph, served with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars and the SAS), Eldest daughter Diana gained the rank of officer between 1939 and 1945 in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, middle daughter Sarah, between acting jobs, joined the WAAF and went on to interpret aerial photographs for British invasions.
Youngest daughter Mary worked for the Red Cross and the Women’s Voluntary Service from 1939 to 1941, and served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service in London, Belgium and Germany in mixed anti-aircraft batteries, rising to the rank of Junior Commander (equivalent to Captain). Mary also accompanied her father on several of his overseas journeys, including his post-VE trip to Potsdam, where he met with Harry S Truman and Joseph Stalin.
This article from November 1940 shows how the girls captured the publics interest-
Unfortunately Diana suffered nervous disorders and in 1963, age 54, while working for a suicide prevention organisation, she committed suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates.
Sarah is best known for her role in the film Royal Wedding (1951), with Fred Aistere, and she made about nine movies in total. Problems with alcohol led to her death in 1982 at the age of 67.
Mary, on her marriage Lady Mary Soames, was the last surviving child of Sir Winston Churchill, and died in 2014 at the age of 91. She left a fortune of more than £22 million, in trust to her five children, and in December 2014, Sotheby’s London auctioned on behalf of her heirs, 255 items out of her collection, including paintings by and memorabilia attached to her father. Mary’s daughter, Emma Soames, has written a book about her mother, which you read about Here.
I recently watched the movie “The Pianist,” a movie set in Warsaw during WWII (a must see if you haven’t), so I was interested to read about Australian women interned in Poland during the war. This article is from Janaury 1940-
According to Robert Loeffel in “The Fifth Column in World War II: Suspected Subversives in the Pacific War” Hester Burden fell in love with an Austrian, Wilhelm Sommer, after being released from Gestapo prison –
The Adelaide Mail reported in October 1940 –
Why Did Hester Burden Go Back to Germany?
In her last letter home, Miss Hester Burden, of Norwood, said it was unlikely that the British Consul at Salonika would let her cross the Mediterranean, and that it would not be safe to make the journey. If she were stranded in Greece it would have been impossible for her to earn money there.
Her mother, Mrs. F. R. Burden said that today that this probably explained Miss Burden’s reported return to voluntary internment in Germany. Hester has no political leanings whatever’ Mrs. Burden added. “We are hoping that Hester is among the Australian women who are to be released. We have heard nothing, and don’t even know what part of Germany she is in.”
The last Adelaidean to make personal contact with Miss Burden was her travelling companions Miss Glen Burton and Mrs. Hector Macdonald. “Hester is not interested in politics” said Mrs. Macdonald today, and she has no political leanings. Of course, from the very moment she refused to take her car to Holland and made for the Yugoslavian frontier, she was under suspicion. I, myself, was under suspicion because I got away and Hester remained. When I returned to Australia I was stripped by the women police and even the hems of my skirts were searched. All my papers were taken, even German text books, and all German print was retained. Hester is an individualist. She likes liberty — and she is very attractive, a brunette, sleek and slim. We were In Berlin together eight days before war broke out”
‘The tourists’ party that Hester was conducting had proceeded to Russia. She wired to them and they said they would meet her in Belgrade instead of her waiting in Berlin. She had been given petrol to proceed to Holland, but she just went her own way, and with her large Packard made for the Yugoslavian frontier. There were no spare parts for the Packard available, and it would be asimple matter to interfere with her car— and, as you know, it broke down andshe was interned.”
“I was with a party of Americans, whose one desire was to get out of Germany. We left Berlin on the Saturday, motored all night, and reached Paris — a distance of about 200 miles —on the Sunday. I have had no direct word from Hester since, although she has. written to my ‘sister in London.’
On 26 March 1946 ‘The Adelaide Advertiser” ran this piece about Miss Burdens returning home to Australia. This is the last piece of information I have been able to find. I’d love to know the full story, wouldn’t you?
Miss Hester Burden On Way Home
Miss Hester Burden, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. R. Burden, of Beulah road, Norwood, is expected back in Adelaide shortly, after four and a half years’ internment in Austria.
She left Adelaide In 1938 to tour England and the Continent. After studying languages at a Paris university, she set off in August to travel by car across Europe on the first stage of her journey home.
War overtook Miss Burden while in Austria, and after several weeks’ imprisonment she was interned In the city of Graz. Here she was allowed to teach at the Institute of Education, and later set up her own college of languages.At the capitulation she enlisted her services with the Allied Military Government, and worked during the occupation in many different capacities with both the British and Russian forces. She dealtwith many displaced persons, and through her knowledge of languages was able to do -valuablework in Interpreting and translation.
Miss Burden left Austria in February, and after visiting Rome and Naples joined the troopship on which, with two other Australian women, she Is travelling back to Australia.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to 2016. Mine could have been better – I have a son in hospital and I spent a couple of hours in ER on January 1 – but it makes me think that things can only get better.
They are on loan so I can read and also scan some pages to share on the blog. How lovely! I promise to do so when I am back in the office, but presently I am on holiday with the kids, and hopefully taking them on a little road trip next week to visit family.
Don’t forget you can get daily wartime articles and ads at my tumblr blog of the Wartime Woman (and follow my Instagram if you want to see what my family and I are up to).
In January 1946 WWII was over and things were beginning to get better. Goods that hadn’t been seen for years were back in stores –
Seventy years on and we are still hoping for better times ahead xx
Sometimes in old novels I have come across people using “Californian Poppy” and I had no idea what it was. It turns out it’s not drugs, as I imagined, but brillantine, or hair oil. I remember my Grandfather using brilliantine in the 70s and 80s, even when he had very little hair, and I assume he used it his whole life. Women also used it, as shown in the ad below, as well as setting lotion, and in the 1930s shampoo began being advertised to replace soap for washing hair. Enjoy these ads from 1939, and if you’re brave there are instructions for damp setting your hair!