Her young man James Aspinall had sent Hetty a silk handkerchief embroidered with the flags of France and England and what looks to be a Scottish thistle. It was kept in a little box, along with a photo of James, and the handwritten note saying they had just become engaged when he was called up to serve in 1916. She did not see him again!
According to the BBC UK website and Narrative Threads, a Canadian website, the women of France and Belgium embroidered silks that were made into postcards, pillow covers and handkerchiefs. These were popular with the Allied men serving on the Western Front because they were beautiful objects that were lightweight and could be sent home to the mothers, wives and sweethearts. This thriving cottage industry helped provide an income to the families affected by the war in France and Belgium.
Sadly, like Hetty’s young James, many of the young men who purchased these handmade souvenirs, did not return home!
And young Hetty, not knowing her young James had been killed writes this poignant Christmas card, pictured below. It was either never sent to him or it was returned to her after he was killed on the Western Front.
But even though her life moved on, and she married, she kept these little treasures of her first love. And now that Hetty has now passed, so too does David her nephew keep the little box. No doubt it will pass on to one of his daughters and so on, down through the ages! Lest we forget the sacrifices, not only of all those young and not so young men, but also the huge losses and sacrifices suffered by all the women at home waiting!
The young man on far right below is Hetty's sweetheart James Aspinall. The photo looks to be of James and his fellow school mates.