Remembering

I have a dress to share, and a story. Hopefully it’s something you’re interested in reading. First up this is my new dress. It’s an Emery Dress by Christine Haynes mashed with Project Runway for Simplicity 2444.

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I used the bodice darts and neckline from 2444 but the armholes and sleeves from the Emery. It’s the Emery skirt too. I mentioned this on Instagram and Twitter but I used a clever but fiddly tutorial to fully line the bodice, even though it has sleeves. I made it extra hard for myself by lining the bodice in the same fabric as the shell so it was hard to work out what to sew and when.

The fabric is a Robert Kaufman limited edition print called “Patriots” – a design to commemorate the centennial of the Naval Airforce. I bought it at Abakhan a few months back and felt emotionally drawn to it. I knew I had to sew it up before November.

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This time of year always makes me a little sad. You see every Remembrance Day I think of my Grandparents and I feel regret that I didn’t know them better. I never asked them the questions that I should have before it was too late. I know that’s a familiar tale but it doesn’t make me regret it any less.

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So today I’d like to share something about my Grandad, on my Father’s side. Alfred Edward Thomas, “Ted” to his friends was in the Navy during the Second World War. Here’s what I know.

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Volunteering in June 1942, aged 19, he joined the HMS Collingwood as a Leading Seaman – that was the equivalent of a Corporal from what I can tell. Between June 1942 and Feb 1945 he served on the Collingwood (for training), Osprey, and the Drake IV Tanatside. In May 1943 during his time on Tanatside the he was promoted to Able Seaman meaning a seaman with at least two years’ experience at sea. From Feb 1945 to June 1946 he served on the HMS Pembroke IV, Fabius (sp?), St Angelo (Caduus), Peacock, and Blenheim. He also spent several months on various out-stations of HMS Victory, most likely for more training.

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He was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star (service in France and Germany), Africa Star (service in North Africa 1942-43)The Defense Medal and The War Medal. There’s a significance to the order of the medals which I won’t delve into too much but I want to say the 1939-1945 Star is awarded to those with more than 180 days continuous service – that’s something to imagine. And the Atlantic Star was awarded to those who participated in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest continuous battle of the Second World war.

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To think of anyone serving in a war is almost inconceivable, it becomes a mental amalgamation of film or television scenes and patchy school history lessons. To think of someone you know – someone who has taken you on day trips and played board games with you – being at war is even harder to rationalise.

But it’s good to try and remember, to think of the effort and sacrifice. So I know what I’ll be thinking of at 11am on the 11th of November.

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