Make do and mend

Contributed by:              embroidery
People in story:              Diana Muriel Walker (now Symons) and (Mother) Gladys Walker
Location of story:          Golden Hill, Whitstable, Kent
Background to story:   Civilian
Article ID:                         A3086732
Contributed on:              04 October 2004

It was a fine clear morning in May 1942 and Mother and I were in the kitchen baking, in our run down old bungalow that had been our home along with my Father and six other brothers and sisters for many years.

We lived in the Country, near Whitstable right on the South East Coast and had seen much activity in the way of aircraft going over; either our lads on there way to Europe on bombing raids, or the Gerries coming over, heading for various targets around the country.

We were in the kitchen baking bread, when we heard the most awful noise.

We ran outside to see what all the fuss was and one of the Daughter’s from the farm up the road shouted to us “come quick” some Gerry had landed in our field!

We ran up the lane and into the field, and saw this German pilot lying on the ground, obviously in great pain with a bad injury to his leg. His plane had crashed nearby, and he had ejected from the aircraft, it looked like, just in time.

While the farmer, his family and couple of other locals were crowding round this pilot, waiting for the military police to arrive, my Mother in her wisdom, managed to gather up the parachute that had come away from the soldiers harness and quick as a flash stuff if up her skirt and return home as quickly as she could.

From that day on the families underwear was made of pure silk, and my Mother was able to pull silk threads from the silk ropes used to hold the parachute and not only sew with this, but do the most beautiful embroidery you have ever seen.

Even a few years later, when I got married, she was able to make me a beautiful nightdress and underwear for my wedding day and honeymoon.

A great case of make do and mend!

Diana Symons

WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at This contribution is published here under the ‘Fair dealing policy’. Copyright remains with the contributor.