WWII – On the Home Front

During a visit to the Canadian War Museum, I spent an hour or two in its associated Military History Research Centre. I have a few notes from that visit that underscore the homefront experience, but confess that I did not properly record the source books. Clearly, as I continue to write historical fiction, I need to develop a more disciplined approach to research.
Nonetheless, here are a few snippets that caught my eye concerning the WWII experience.

We used to roll bandages for the Red Cross. The women felt that this was an outing. You got together and you rolled bandages and you had a cup of coffee and a chat.

My grandmother used to do this sort of work during WWII. She also bundled packages to be sent off to soldiers and Christmas gifts of food and treats as you can see in this photo.
Christmas Parcel Committee

And we knit, we knit mitts. You had to learn to leave a hole in the front. You knit a flap that pulled off, so they could get their fingers out, I suppose for loading the guns.

The juxtaposition of the domestic act of knitting with the loading of guns is striking.

Stockings were very hard to get. You had to line up to buy them. Sometimes one and a half hours. Often the store would run out.

No doubt we’ve all heard stories of women painting a line down the back of their leg in order to pretend they had stockings on.
I also found newspaper ads:

Your aid is vital! Save metal, rags, paper, bones, rubber, glass. They are used in war supplies.

A rubber cleanup will speed victory! Patriotic Salvage Corps Rubber Drive, May 1st to 31st.

The list of rubber items included old tires, inner tubes, rubber boots, sink mats, kneeling pads, rubber gloves, rubber toys. Puts today’s recycling efforts in perspective, doesn’t it?

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3 Responses

  1. I ran across a letter from my father to his mother dated March, 1944. From somewhere in Germany. He said he didn’t need cigarettes or razor blades, but would like to have some pickles and sardines; olives too. He told his mother not to worry, but there were lots of Germans around 🙂 Time puts such a perspective on things.

  2. Your post brings back such memories. For me it was packing a box of outgrown clothing that my mother said would go to children who lost theirs in the war. I remember trying to imagine how children could “lose” their clothing. I often wondered where the package went. We in the US were so insulated and removed from Europe where war was more common. Baffling to a child (especially before the daily input of mass media and television)

    1. Thanks, Judith. Sometimes I think I’ve been living with memories during the past several years while writing, particularly Unravelled. The whole process has brought my grandparents much closer even though they’ve both been dead for almost forty years.

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