Another year has passed and it is again Remembrance Day here in Canada.  11/11/11.  We’re in the midst of a fierce storm of wind and rain, so much so that many of the activities scheduled for today have been moved indoors (though the roads seem too dangerous to drive, at least for me).  We here will take our minute of silence, probably accompanied by Peter Mansbridge and the CBC.

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I have a couple of interesting things to share today, on the theme of Remembrance Day.  First of all, the new movie “21 Brothers,” filmed in Kingston Ontario, about Kingston’s 21st Battalion. There is a short documentary about the making of the movie available on youtube.

My husband’s great grandfather, Edward Charles Maidman, was a member of this unit during the First World War.  There is also a fantastic website about the 21st here.

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Another interesting link I have to share is this article about knitting as part of the war effort.  This article specifically deals with the United States, specifically Washington State, but many of the things discussed apply to the entire allied war effort.  Here are some interesting sections:

The propaganda effect of hand knitting cannot be estimated in terms of hard cash, but it is considerable. A sweater for a bluejacket. A helmet for a flying cadet, made by some devoted woman in a small town far from the war, is sure to arouse interest in the navy or Air Force among the friends of the woman doing the knitting. And she herself feels that she has an active part in this vast conflict; she is not useless, although she can do nothing else to help win the war. (The New York Times, January 22, 1942).

I also found it very interesting that people started learning to card and spin their own yarn due to shortages:

Like meat, fats, sugar, and gasoline, wool was in very short supply during World War II. The war interrupted wool production worldwide. Wool produced was difficult to ship. The War Production Board set strict quotas on how the available wool could be sold and on what could be made from it.  The Seattle Red Cross responded to the yarn shortage ingeniously: “Red Cross leaders are being trained at Lowell School in the old-fashioned arts of carding and spinning yarn from wool … enabling the workers to produce articles for the fighting forces at a savings of more than $3.00 a pound in original cost of wool. Arts and Crafts leaders from the Works Projects Administration at the school are teaching the Red Cross workers the technique of spinning” (The Seattle Times, June 3, 1942).

The amount of knitwear that a dedicated group of women could manufacture in their spare time is staggering:

In Enumclaw a group of knitters met from 1 o’clock to 4 o’clock each Tuesday afternoon….  Between January 1, 1943, and March 9, 1944, this group knitted 65 sleeveless army vests, 19 women’s service sweaters, 25 army helmets, 3 navy helmets, 1 navy vest, 4 army scarves, 10 heavy coat sweaters, 4 afghans, 56 children’s sweaters, 8 turtleneck sweaters, 5 pairs navy gloves and 1 navy scarf. The children’s garments and afghans were for citizens in war torn countries.

This poem is from the Khakhi Knitting Book, edited by Olive Whiting, and published by Allies Special Aid, New York, in 1917:

Knit Your Bit

by A. M. D., October 1917.

Swiftly, to and fro,

Let your needles fly!

Be not yours to know

Pause, for tear or sigh.

Stitch by stitch they grow,

Garments soft and warm

That will keep life’s glow

In some shivering form.

Sweater, muffler, sock,

For the soldiers’ wear!

List to pity’s knock —

For those “over there.”

Children’s voices too,

In the sad refrain,

Weing our hearts anew,

From that world of pain.

Banish for a while

Tints of brighter hue,

Welcome with a smile

Khaki, gray and blue.

Days are cold and drear,

Nights are long and bleak,

Thoughts from home are dear,

Where the cannons shriek.

Let some simple thing,

That your hand employs,

Cheer and comfort bring

To our gallant Boys.

May there be no end

To what love supplies!

Thus their share we’ll send

To our brave Allies!

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And this one just cracked me up:

(Works Projects Administration poster, 1942).

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