VE Day, 9 May 1945

Here is a one-off blog post for this day, 9 May 2015, on the 70th anniversary of VE day (victory in Europe). My father was in Germany on that day, as a captain in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and he wrote letters home, one to his mother on the 7 May and another to his aunt on 9 May. They are such vivid first-hand accounts from that they should perhaps be shared. He was then aged 24 and had fought for five years. Here are extracts from the letters:

7 May 1945

“As you may well imagine we have been busy. It’s all rather complicated to explain. We moved great distances quickly and then fought a longish battle and then changed at once to the job of dealing with a defeated Germany. What an experience it has been so far. The journey was very interesting as there was plenty to see. The battle was very hard work – I averaged one and a half hours sleep a night for six days . I have just recovered completely now really!!

The third part though has been the incredible part. […] The day before yesterday I stood at the fork roads of a small town we were in – what a sight met my eyes. Thousand upon thousand of prisoners rolling in – generals – privates – boys – women – coming in private cars with their wives and civilian clothes – shambling in on foot – in carts – on buses – complete in their own transport – on horses – any old how. All of them, without guards, merely being directed to the cages. Cages is the wrong word, for there is no wire round them – there are just fields and civilians come and give them soup and so on. The cages are just get together places for an army with no leader – and utterly broken and dejected rabble.

As well as that crowd pouring in – there are lots of our own ex-prisoners of war – there are displaced persons which are slave workers from Russia – France – Belgium – Holland. Finally, there are the civilians just standing and staring. Finally one or two British soldiers – moving them one way or the other and directing a convoy pouring through headed north at forty miles an hour!! …

…It’s all very breathtaking really. VE day is tomorrow. I cannot believe that the war in Europe is over – it can’t be true. There is no boisterousness here. I hope they all believe, as I do, that we are faced with the bigger job now  – the peace.”

9 May 1945

“… we have been extremely busy, as you may well imagine. We shot up from our old areas at great speed and joined in the crossing of the Elbe. There followed a pretty sharp battle – really I suppose the last fought against British troops by the Germans this war….

It has been, this last week – the most astounding and interesting week of my life. I have been privileged to see, absolutely first hand the complete downfall of Germany…

Isn’t the news very thrilling. Here I couldn’t believe it. It’s very hard you know, but last night when I heard our old friend Howard Marshall and Richard Dimbleby giving a running commentary on Churchill appearing on the balcony of the Ministry of Health and conducting Land of Hope and Glory, I realised that it must be over. What wonderful scenes there must have been and what a wonderful moment for a wonderful man”

Thank you for reading my blog (which is usually about textiles, I should explain)! I always wonder who is reading what I write each week, so please do get in touch and tell me what you like, what could be better and what you’d like to see on these pages. I’d love to hear from you – there’s a comments form below.

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This is my ‘Beach Stripe’  fabric design. You can find it here.

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Quilts in Bishop Auckland

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A new Art Gallery opened yesterday in the Market Square, Bishop Auckland in County Durham. The building was opened with the cutting of a red ribbon by Rosemary Butler who spoke of her pleasure in the new venture, which is to be called The Pod, and who prayed for its success before performing the opening ceremony.  Mrs Butler has recently come to live in Bishop Auckland, with her husband the newly-appointed bishop of Durham.

cutting the ribbon
Rosemary Butler speech

The new gallery is situated in the market place, just opposite Bishop Auckland Town Hall:

Bishop Auckland Town Hall

It has a view, down the road, to the entrance to the castle:

Gate to Bishop Auckland Castle

And in the castle are the famous paintings by Zurburan of the tribes of Israel:

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The new Bishop Auckland Art Gallery will host a pop-up exhibition from today (Friday 17 April 2015) until Sunday (19 April) and in the longer term will provide accommodation for start-up businesses in the Arts and Crafts. The current exhibition includes paintings by local artists and crafts including sculptures in natural wood forms, leather goods, paper-cutting, wire and enamelled jewellery, embroidered pictures, printed mugs, lampshades, dried hydrangea decorations and more besides. Amanda Jane Textiles is exhibiting!

Behind the stand are my ‘Sea and Sand’ double quilt and ‘Blue Mountains’ single quilt and on the tables, the ‘Quilter’s Bag’, ‘Christmas Tree Skirt’, ‘Pretty Pouches’, ‘Australian Animals’, ‘Rise and Shine’ ‘Stitcher’s Kit’ and the brand new ‘Hello Baby’ quilts in pink and in blue colourways, each stitched item with its own pattern. (All the patterns are also available in my shop – click here.) Each item needed to be viewed separately, together with its bundle of patterns, so I decided on a series of baskets for display. I looked out for picnic baskets in particular, because the  lid, which is attached to the basket at the side with a chain or cord remains upright when open, which is useful for supporting quilted fabric items.  The stack of patterns (each pattern wrapped in a cellophane envelope) was then inserted in the basket, next to the product.

quilt and pattterns

I did a mock-up of the stand at home, like this, to see how everything looked:

Craft stand at Bishop Auckland

The patterns needed more support, so that they wouldn’t curl inside the baskets, so I added a plain clipboard with a business card attached to the top, to support them. The final stall, in situ, looked like this:

Art display

Other things needed for a craft fair: money float (so you can give change), business cards, flyers for workshops, Artist’s statement, Price List, Inventory, Checklist to record sales (oh, and comfortable shoes!).

Thank you for reading my blog! I always wonder who is reading what I write each week, so please do get in touch and tell me what you like, what could be better and what you’d like to see on these pages. I’d love to hear from you – there’s a comments form below.

If you would like to follow this weekly blog, click the ‘Follow this blog’ button.

If you would like to receive my special monthly newsletter, complete with colour inspiration, design inspiration and a free pattern, please click here

This is my ‘Rock and Roll’ fabric design. You can find it here.

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