A Personal Account of one soldier’s WWI Experience
By Lauren Klamm
April 6 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entrance into World War I.
As men made their way from their homes in the US to the trenches of Europe, soldiers and their loved ones in the States sent keepsakes and saved memorabilia, commemorating what was to become one of the most influential events in the 20th century.
When one thinks of textiles of war, uniforms, banners and flags immediately come to mind. Caring for Textiles has treated several non-traditional WWI commemorative pieces, including an entire quilted wall-hanging made up entirely of stitched cigarette silks. These printed cotton sateen panels show flags, military leaders and royalty from this era.
However, perhaps the most breathtaking and personal piece from this era, came from a private client, whose great-grandfather served in Europe.
Imprinting his thoughts with ink, this soldier chose to document his promotions, movements and personal thoughts on this silk flag. Writing a journal was against military rules, as it could fall to enemy hands, but here our soldier notates milestones, fears, and success on a textile, a silk flag, which he clearly carried on his person. It is to history’s benefit that he penned these very personal accounts of war, the Great War, in the language of the day.
Our conservation work involved relaxing large creases and mounting, so that it will now last for many generations to come.
Totaling fourteen inscriptions in all, this soldier lovingly transcribes his pride, his faith and even his longing to hear from his loved ones.
From his “Baptism of war” to serving in the Somme, the flag serves as an amazing and personal record of just one of thousands of American soldiers tasked with fighting.