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Dusty embroidered cards

(15 Posts)
Elegran Wed 19-Feb-14 15:52:16

While sorting out a box of old postcards, I have found three embroidered postcards sent by my father to my mother when he was stationed in France in 1940. You know the sort - embroidery on thin material, inset into a postcard, with a sentimental message. I did not know that these existed - I knew of ones sent by my grandfather to my grandmother in WWI, and lost many years ago, and I now wonder whether the two lots have been confused.

They were among photos of holiday resorts, quite unprotected and frankly rather dusty and greying. i have more sense than to try to do anything to the fabric, but is there a safe way to make the "white" card look cleaner?

tanith Wed 19-Feb-14 16:30:21

I wouldn't mess with them if I were you. I have some ,they are beautiful and quite worth preserving I have them in plastic sleeves.

Elegran Wed 19-Feb-14 17:59:39

I have had a look online, and it seems that lightly cleaning the surrounds with a vinyl eraser is OK. I have done that and the whole thing looks better. On one of them the fabric is coming adrift from the card, and is very grubby. I feel justified in tidying that one up a bit - anything would be an improvement.

Agus Wed 19-Feb-14 20:19:33

What a beautiful keep sake to have Elegran

I have framed the first valentine my Father sent to my Mother. Would this be an option for you to preserve them ?

Elegran Wed 19-Feb-14 20:26:31

One of the cards refers to Baby - me!

I am still thinking about how I can display them. Also in the box of postcards were a couple of dozen postcards of the area in which he served (Brittany/Normandy after Dunkirk - he was one of the last to leave under Operation Ariel)

In my parent's house were a series of pen-and-ink drawings that he did of places he had seen. My brother has these now in an album, but I am promised photocopies of them. These postcards are of the same places, seen from the same angles. He did the drawn copies at leisure, after he was safely home. I want to frame the postcard alongside the drawing.

Agus Wed 19-Feb-14 20:48:44

What a shame to keep these pen and ink drawings hidden away in an album.

How lovely to have these comparisons hanging in your home. Obviously a strong meaning to your Father and now to you. I would be so proud to display these as I am very sentimental about meaningful family memories.

Tegan Wed 19-Feb-14 21:46:27

I like those picture frames that you can put several postcards in as I'm always buying postcards.

Elegran Wed 19-Feb-14 23:00:50

Agus My father was part of a unit receiving and forwarding signals as those who were not evacuated at Dunkirk retreated, so he heard a lot of what was going on, but he did not say much about it. I only remember him saying that they left one end of Rennes as the Germans entered the other end, and when I went to France via Cherbourg he said that the last time he had seen Cherbourg was quite enough for him.

Since he died I have found out more about those few weeks. Many of his postcards and sketches are of Rennes. During the time he was there, three trains sitting together in the railway station (a busy junction) were attacked by enemy aircraft and destroyed. They were bound for the channel ports, and packed with refugees, nuns from a convent, patients from a hospital, families fleeing the invasion. The station was completely flattened, as were buildings around it. A British officer had pleaded with the station master to disperse the trains out into the countryside, but bureaucracy prevailed, and they were stuck there, sitting ducks.

While he was at Cherbourg, waiting to embark or to sail (on 18th June), he must have seen the column of smoke that rose from the Lancastria. sunk off St Nazaire on 17 June, causing the deaths of at least 4,000 people packed on board like sardines to be evacuated, more lives than the combined losses of the RMS Titanic and RMS Lusitania. It had also the highest death toll for UK forces in a single engagement in the whole of World War II. Over 1,400 tons of fuel oil leaked into the sea and went on fire.

Elegran Thu 20-Feb-14 00:11:49

I have just found another report on the Rennes attack. It says that there were a dozen trains in the station, including troop trains and 12 wagons of an ammunitions train - which had been placed between passenger trains.

Agus Thu 20-Feb-14 10:05:44

I can only imagine what must have gone through your Father's mind as he stood waiting to embark whilst witnessing the fate that awaited those poor souls aboard the Lancastria.

I have visited areas in Northern France and each time, always think about the horrors that took place. The moist poignant for me is Dunkirk where my late uncle was part of that particular hell. I never heard anything first hand about his experiences but I do remember older family members saying he was never the same man as he struggled with severe depression.

The irony was,years later, his daughter met and married a lovely German boy with whom my uncle had a strong relationship and wouldn't tolerate any adverse comments from bitter members of his generation.

ninathenana Thu 20-Feb-14 16:09:54

I would love to know more about my father's service history. We know he parachuted into Arnhem and spent time in Iceland but most of what he did seems very hush hush. My brother has been to the IWM only to be told they cannot or will not give us any information and nor will his regiment.

I have some lovely old birthday cards some of which are embroidered that were sent to MiL including her 21st cards. 1940c

Elegran Thu 20-Feb-14 16:48:30

I can find very little about my father's either, Nina. His service record says he was with the Gloucestershire regiment at that time, but they do not appear to have been in the area, and to have nothing to do with the sending and receiving of messages.

He always had an interest in codes and ciphers, and when they left Rennes had a bit of a difference of opinion with his superior officer, who was more concerned that the safe he had personally signed responsibility for might be destroyed by the invading Germans that he was about the code books which were kept in it. There was no chance of taking the code books with them, and no time to burn them. Dad persuaded him to lock it up and throw away the key, so that it would take explosive charges to get into it, and by then the code books would be outdated.

I think he may have been seconded to a different unit - but I don't know which one.

tiggypiro Thu 20-Feb-14 17:00:05

Elegran and nina - have you tried

Elegran Thu 20-Feb-14 19:38:59

YesTiggy but they don't have anything relevant.

ninathenana Thu 20-Feb-14 19:40:49

Nor for me, nobody with dads name.