Given it’s the final month of another chilly winter here in Canberra, I felt it was fitting to share with you one of the cosiest objects on display at the Memorial: Corporal Clifford Gatenby’s embroidered blanket. Its unique design has captivated visitors with its richly embroidered images from across the globe, as well as the more familiar symbols of Australia. It is also a rare example of an object of its size to have been created in a prisoner of war camp and to have survived.
Many people tend to associate embroidery and needlework with women and the comfort of the homefront, but men are also known to pick up the needle and thread, especially it seems during times of war. Whether stitched as a way to pass the time in a prisoner of war camp, to record events, places and names, or as rehabilitation therapy in military hospitals, embroidered items have many interesting stories to share. To celebrate World Embroidery Day, 30 July, here are some examples of First World War rehabilitation embroidery from the Memorial’s National Collection, and stories of th