Home News & Articles WW2 knitting brothers produce poppy display
“KNITTING brothers” from a Saltburn care home have been producing poppies for Remembrance Day – having learned to sew during the Second World War.
Eric Starsmore, 80, Walter Ross, 88, and Peter Gibbon, 86, picked up knitting needles for the first time in years to produce a woollen memorial ahead of the annual commemoration on 11th November.
The residents at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, on Randolph Street, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, were nicknamed the “knitting brothers” by staff after they offered to help with the display.
They produced dozens of wool poppies, which have been arranged into the famous “unknown Tommy” silhouette.
Visitors to the care home will be asked to guess how many poppies are on the display for £1 – with all proceeds going to The Royal British Legion.
Peter and Walter both learned to knit during the Second World War, when they produced warm clothing for soldiers on the front line, and Eric can recall his mother doing the same before he picked up the skill when he got older.
Peter, who was 10 when the War ended, said: “All children were expected to contribute to the war effort. Boys were taught to knit for our soldiers, and they would do this at school, which is when I learnt to knit.”
Walter, who was 12 at the end of the War, said: “I remember knitting socks for the soldiers and being told this would prevent them from getting trench foot, which was very serious and could cause a soldier to lose their foot.
“My mam would knit balaclavas and talk about knitting for victory during the First World War, when she was a child.”
Eric, who was born during the War and reached four by VE Day, said: “One of my earliest memories was of my mam knitting in the air raid shelter.
“When I was old enough, she taught me to knit. In those days, it was more common for boys to knit.”
Sharon Lewis, activity coordinator at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, said: “When wanting to do some knitting with our men I discovered Peter, Eric and Walter could all knit.
“We were watching the Olympics in the lounge and Tom Daley was knitting between competing and they told me they learned when they were younger.
“Both Peter and Walter had knit at school during the War and were keen to do a project that would reflect this. Peter said he can remember being told that you had to knit for Tommy, to keep the great war soldiers warm.
“So we decided to knit poppies, as this year is a hundred years of the poppy, and cover a Tommy soldier in poppies. We will then get people to pay a pound a go to guess how many it took and donate the money to The Royal British Legion.
“We started calling Walter, Peter and Eric our “knitting brothers” as they said how they have enjoyed knitting the poppies and how therapeutic they found it. They said on reflection how knitting must have helped the wives and children when the men went to war.
“I am very proud of how well our men have embraced this project and delighted with the finished picture.”
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