‘Knitting for Victory’

16 Oct

In October 1939 the Admiralty encouraged members of the public to knit ‘comforts’ primarily for the Royal and Merchant Navies and coined the phrase ‘Knitting for Victory’.  Later in the war both the RAF and Army started their own ‘Knitting for Victory’ campaigns.  Knitted ‘comforts’ ranged from socks through to balaclavas, caps, scarves, gloves, wrist warmers, pullovers, cardigans, ‘tank tops’ and other miscellaneous items which would make service personnel’s life just that little bit more bearable.  Individuals and voluntary organisations all over Britain, the Empire and even the USA were quick to join in and started to knit ‘comforts’.


One such organisation was the Women’s Voluntary Service and after the Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940 the WVS met returning trains and handed out not only tea and food but also distributed replacement shirts, socks and many other items of home-made clothing.  In fact knitted ‘comforts’ were more sought after by members of the armed forces than general issue items.  With knitting being a popular past time  prior to WW2, most women and many men could knit and darn to a very high standard  and this was reflected in the quality of the knitwear which was often of better quality, warmer and softer than the coarse items offered out by the War Department clothing stores.


The amount of clothes produced by volunteers working alone and in knitting groups is beyond calculation but by 1945 the WVS had been manufacturing five tons of knitted clothing a month for the duration of the war.  It was not just clothing made by volunteers as miles of camouflage netting was assembled by housewives in their back gardens and by the WVS in village halls throughout the war.  It was particularly arduous and back-breaking to make camouflage netting and many of the workers were elderly women doing their bit hour after hour for their country.


2 Responses to “‘Knitting for Victory’”

  1. Good Gentlewoman November 29, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Fascinating story from the Home Front. The knitting tradition continues today. Pat Beaumont and a group of Bristol women have knitted many thousands of beanie hats for troops serving in Afghanistan.

    • homefrontmuseum November 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      I bet today’s troops are as appreciative as yesteryears when they receive hand made comforts, knowing that people back on the Home Front are thinking of them!

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