Embroidered RAF Badge

Embroidery kits were very popular during the Second World War with both civilians and members of the military. Special booklets were prepared with designs in them that were then sold in hospitals exclusively to members of the armed forces as a form of occupational therapy. These came in a small paper envelope and included fabric, needle, coloured cotton and instructions. Some designs were of landscapes and animals, however a perennial favourite were kits featuring the cap badges of various regiments and services. Tonight we have an example of an RAF badge embroidered in coloured thread on a piece of linen:imageThe quality of the embroidery is excellent and the badge is still as bright as the day it was made:imageThis piece has clearly been framed at some point as the fabric has been tucked behind and taped in place:imageIt was noted that embroidery was excellent therapy for wounded soldiers, it being an activity that could be performed seated or stood up depending on a man’s disability and in small groups or alone. The materials needed were cheap and readily available and the task absorbed a man’s concentration giving him a moment’s respite from his thoughts with a physical result from the activity that could be presented to a loved one. After the First World War a number of soldiers came together to form the ‘Disabled Soldiers’ Embroidery Industry’ (DESI) that promoted the recovery of the wounded and found them employment by producing embroidered items for sale. Queen Mary gave the movement her support and they presented her with an embroidered altar cloth that was used in the private chapel in Buckingham Palace. The company continued into the 1960s and produced many intricate pieces of embroidery for public buildings such as banners and chair covers.

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