Cushion Cover; 1917; C116

From

Port Macquarie Museum

Name/Title

Cushion Cover

About this object

This pretty apple green silk embroidered cushion cover with lace edging was made in France during World War I. It features the insignia of the Australian Flying Corps and a decorative scroll. French women made souvenirs like this one during the First World War as a means of financially supporting themselves and their families.

The cushion cover was probably purchased by Andrew Harrower (Service No. 553) who served as a Wireless Operator and Flight Mechanic with both the 2nd and 3rd Squadrons of the Australian Flying Corps and was stationed in France on several occasions before being severely wounded in his right arm and repatriated back to Australia early in 1919.

The Australian Flying Corps (AFC) was the branch of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) responsible for operating aircraft during World War I. Formed in 1912, flight training did not begin until 1914. Three AFC Squadrons were established in 1916 and these were sent into France from mid 1917 where they undertook operations in British aircraft working under the operational command of the British Royal Flying Corps. They were involved in actions along the Western Front and in Passchendaele, Amiens, Ypres, Arras and Lille. In 1920 the Australian Flying Corps was discontinued and officially separated from the Army to be re-named the Royal Australian Air Force.

This cushion cover appears to be unique. Both the insignia and the scroll have been exquisitely embroidered by hand with pink roses and buds, stems and leaves surrounding the centrepiece. The material and threads used convey a sense of calmness, in contrast to the sense of turmoil expressed by some of the darker and more sombre colours used on embroidered silk postcards that were also made in France at this time. Perhaps by mid-1917 there was an element of hope and relief amongst the French people, and so these pretty and delicate threads and materials were chosen to reflect their optimism and their hope of a return to the stable environment and the familiar countryside they once knew.

It is also possible that the feats of the Australian forces both in the Flying Corps and on the ground, inspired the French women to take extra time and care in embroidering large and detailed works such as this cushion cover, and to search for colours and materials that conveyed their growing sense of optimism and appreciation for the assistance given by the Australians.

This Cushion Cover with its AFC insignia and pretty pink roses suggests affection, admiration and gratitude from the person who made it. It is understandable that it was kept as a special memento probably by Andrew Harrower who had first-hand experience in France and with the French people during World War I.

Margaret Blight
21 February 2015

Date Made

1917

Place Made

France

Medium and Materials

Silk, cotton, embroidery silks, ribbon

Inscription and Marks

A scroll beneath the Australian Flying Corps insignia carries the words SOUVENIR DE FRANCE

Measurements

660mm L, 640mm W

Credit Line

Donor: Mrs Harrower

Object Type

Cushion covers

Object number

C116

Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

This object is from

Tags

1917
AFC
AIF
Andrew Harrower
Australian Flying Corp
embroidery
France
lace
ribbon
silk
souvenir
World War I
WW1

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