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Diamonds, not only a girls best friend in WWII

Imagine inheriting diamond jewellery – a lot of diamond jewellery….and during WWII. Would you keep it or turn it over to the war effort?

  the duchess of kents inherits diamonds and jewells in 1940  

As a royal I suppose you’d need to keep a few, and anyway personally owned diamonds could not be taken by London’s Diamond Comittee during the War, according to this article from February 1940.


And from March 1940-

Of course Holland was invaded two months later, in May 1940, so let’s hope the diamonds did travel to England the the US.

This article from October 1938 shows that some smart (and obviously rich) people were already thinking ahead about war and investing in diamonds. There are interesting comments about Jewish people too, and how diamonds were easily transported across “unfriendly borders”.  londons rich investing in diamonds 1938 

Unfortunaltely diamonds did not save many, if any, Jews from persecution and execution. Many had sewn their diamonds and other jewels into their clothing, and these were routinely removed from clothing after the Jews were murdered at the concentration camps.  There are accounts of diamonds being moved to a vault in banks in France in order to provide “rainy day” money for nazi officials to make new lives for themselves after the war.

Of course this article could have been just part of  De Beers 1938 American marketing campaign encouraging people to by diamond engagement rings – a campaign that was obviously extremely sucessful, with a jump in US diamond sales of 55% in the four years between 1938 and 1941 – but then again I haven’t actually been able to find any Debeers ads from before 1948, so maybe it was the war……

I did find this ad from 1938 for an Australian Jeweller, which advertises diamond rings, and watches, as anniversay gifts rather than engagement rings. 

 diamond ring ad 1938 
I now work in a an antique jewellery store and find it interesting that many couples are now buying diamond bands for their wedding bands, as well as diamond engagement rings.  Debeers really did well…..

Read more about diamonds in WWII here.


Fashions of February 1939

Continuing on from my post Fashions of January 1939, today a look at fashion from February 1939, the last month of Summer in Australia.


Illustration by Virgil, 1939

Illustration by Virgil, 1939


Suit ideas from London


Light weight wool is a popular Autumn and Spring fabric


I love the high waisted genie pants!


Why don't you wear Schiaparelli's adorable black seal skin topper?Hmmm...

Why don’t you wear Schiaparelli’s adorable black seal skin topper?Hmmm…


Simple swing skirts


Long gathered skirts for evening wear – what a lot of fabric!


Imagine the blackout curtains you could make from that velvet dress..


And let’s not forget the foundation garments!


Any favourites?

Articles from March 1942

Oh joy, the new scanner has arrived. Unfortunately I am still learning it’s secrets, but at least its a start. I can finally start sharing some images from 1940’s magazines loaned to me by a wonderful reader. First this Magazine from March 1942 –

cover womans day magazine march 1942

What a sweet cover I can’t seem to find detail of it in the magazine, but she looks as if she has just had some bad news….

One of my favourite ads in this magazine is this one of Olviia de Havilland – love that hairstyle!

olivia de haviland cola ad 1940s 1942

I’ll share more ads on the tumblr blog and try and scan a few interesting articles for next time.

Churchill’s Girls – From Dashing to Tragic

Churchill’s Girls – From Dashing to Tragic

I am in between scanners at present, so here is one Post I prepared earlier…

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was the Prime Minister of the UK for most of WWII, from 1940 to 1945 (and again from 1951 to 1955). He is often stated as being one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century,  and his radio broadcasts help inspire the British people during the war.  His children also did their bit to help the war effort.

Churchill’s only son, Randolph, served with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars and the SAS),  Eldest daughter Diana gained the rank of officer between 1939 and 1945 in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, middle daughter Sarah, between acting jobs, joined the WAAF and went on to interpret aerial photographs for British invasions.

Winston Churchill is accompanied by his daughter Sarah, Cairo, December 1943

Youngest daughter Mary worked for the Red Cross and the Women’s Voluntary Service from 1939 to 1941, and served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service in London, Belgium and Germany in mixed anti-aircraft batteries, rising to the rank of Junior Commander (equivalent to Captain). Mary also accompanied her father on several of his overseas journeys, including his post-VE trip to Potsdam, where he met with Harry S Truman and Joseph Stalin.

Churchill with daughter Mary at Potsdam Conference

This article from November 1940 shows how the girls captured the publics interest-

churchills dashing daughters

Unfortunately Diana suffered nervous disorders and in 1963, age 54, while working for a suicide prevention organisation, she committed suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates.

Sarah is best known for her role in the film Royal Wedding (1951), with Fred Aistere, and she made about nine movies in total. Problems with alcohol led to her death in 1982 at the age of 67.


November 1950

Mary, on her marriage Lady Mary Soames, was the last surviving child of Sir Winston Churchill, and died in 2014 at the age of 91. She left a fortune of more than £22 million, in trust to her five children, and in December 2014, Sotheby’s London auctioned on behalf of her heirs, 255 items out of her collection, including paintings by and memorabilia attached to her father. Mary’s daughter, Emma Soames, has written a book about her mother, which you read about Here.


the tragic Churchills

November 1963


Happy New Year, 1946 and a Big Thankyou

I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to 2016. Mine could have been better – I have a son in hospital and I spent a couple of hours in ER on January 1 – but it makes me think that things can only get better. 

I did have one lovely thing happen – these arrived from one fabulous reader of my blog –   

They are on loan so I can read and also scan some pages to share on the blog. How lovely! I promise to do so when I am back in the office, but presently I am on holiday with the kids, and hopefully taking them on a little road trip next week to visit family.

Don’t forget you can get daily wartime articles and ads at my tumblr blog of the Wartime Woman (and follow my Instagram if you want to see what my family and I are up to).

In January 1946 WWII was over and things were beginning to get better. Goods that hadn’t been seen for years were back in stores – 

post war radio ad 1946 with canary 
Or almost back in stores…

 post war ad 1946  
Pretty girls were on the covers of magazines

  and people were thinking over travelling overseas for holidays again  
travel nume ad 1946Women were also thinking about gettng married, despite continued hardships. vintage brides, getting married post war 1946 

Seventy years on and we are still hoping for better times ahead xx

The Soap War of 1939

  In 1939 soap was essential for cleanliness – plain bars of soap, there were no body washes or pump soaps.  Deodorant was fairly new and not everyone used or approved of it, so soap had to combat body odour, or try to. The advertising was intense as companies fought for consumer loyalty – these ads are all from the Australian Women’s Weekly in December 1939.

vintage 1930s rexona ad  

vintage 1930s soap adLux paid big money and used movie stars in their ads-

If only consumers had a crystal ball they probably would have stocked up on as much soap as possible, as it became almost impossible to get during the war.

Hair styles and products of 1939

Sometimes in old novels I have come across people using “Californian Poppy” and I had no idea what it was. It turns out it’s not drugs, as I imagined, but brillantine, or hair oil. I remember my Grandfather using brilliantine in the 70s and 80s, even when he had very little hair, and I assume he used it his whole life. Women also used it, as shown in the ad below, as well as setting lotion, and in the 1930s shampoo began being advertised to replace soap for washing hair. Enjoy these ads from 1939, and if you’re brave there are instructions for damp setting your hair!

 vintage 1930s hair ad  
 intage 1930s hairstyles    


Wartime Swimsuits

It’s the first week of Summer here in Australia, and my thoughts have turned to swimsuits. We have a few beaches nearby (which occasionally have crocodiles, sharks and stingers) and a pool (which is currently getting renovated) so we swim every day over Summer.  Usually we even put on swimsuits, although the odd skinny dip is not unknown!  

What style swimsuits would we have been wearing during the war? Let’s have a little look –

1939 jantzen swimsuit ad 1939  

at the beach 1939 




1942 – clothes ratioing kicks in in Australia, and ads for swimwear are almost non existent.  Elastic used in commercial swimwear would have used rubber, which was needed for the war effort. To keep itself in the public  mind Jantzen cleverly told women how to care for their swimsuits so they would last longer.

 vintage 1940s swimsuit ad 
1943 – 

 vintage 1940s swimsuit  bikini 

 vintage 1940s swimsuit  


Morale Boosting Wartime Ads, 1944

Another wartime beauty ad cashing in on working wartime women – Ponds, 1944

Vintage Ponds makeup ad, 1944

And some real war time girls, from the RAAF, out of uniform and planning a dance, 1944


This 1944 ad talks of morale, without showing the actual product, which I find interesting…

vintage makeup ad, 1944

And this ad is sweet, and moral boosting, and….it’s hard to know who sponsored it.


Arnott’s biscuits, of course!

A Wartime Meal for Americans

The war time diet of those in the UK was definitely stricter, and more rationed than those in the USA at the time.  This May 1942 ad from Good HouseKeeping (sponsored by American Gas) shows a recommended meal plan for a day, and features food probably not available in Britain at the time – grapefruit juice, veal shoulder, tomato juice, eggs and cream.


Another example of big business getting into the wartime spirit, and asking us to do our bit for the war-effort.  Good on them!

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