Making handkerchiefs for the troops

Making handkerchiefs for the troops

Schoolchildren were expected to help the war effort in both practical and symbolic ways. Here, boys and girls at Te Aroha Public School stitch the edges of handkerchiefs for soldiers. In June 1916 the School Journal romanticised their efforts by painting a very personal picture:

Far away, at the front, a soldier, black with smoke after serving at his gun, takes out his handkerchief to wipe his face. It was a child’s little fingers that hemmed the handkerchief. Or he is wounded, and has to be bandaged up. It was a small boy in Australia who rolled that bandage. Or a bale of gifts may arrive in camp; and the soldier finds, amongst his share a nicely knitted pair of socks. It was a little school girl in New Zealand who gave up her play-time to get them done.

Images like this helped to make the war personal for schoolchildren who could connect with the soldiers at the front through their efforts at home.

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