Family Photographs from WW1: A Band of Brothers

Family Photographs from WW1:

A Band of Brothers


band of brothers ww1 uniform british fusiliers silver war badge



Many servicemen during the First World War visited their local photographer for a commemorative portrait and often friends or brothers would pose together, wearing their various military uniforms. Above are three brothers who, born between 1891 and 1894, were healthy young men when war broke out in August 1914. The photograph is undated but was evidently taken during the war.

John (Jack) and Charles Mabbs (left and centre) served in the 25th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, while their younger brother, Frederick Mabbs, joined the 7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. Jack was wounded in Mombasa in 1915 and later received the Silver War Badge (aka Silver Wound Badge), while Fred, who served in France and Belgium, was also wounded, judging from the wound stripes seen here on his left sleeve. Fred’s nickname was ‘Duke’ because he had met the Duke of Windsor and had offered him a cigarette (which he took!)


chelsea pensioner


Happily, all three brothers survived the Great War and Charles, who had been involved in guerilla and commando warfare, remained a career soldier, going on to train British Commandos in the Second World War. Charles ended his days as a Chelsea Pensioner and the above photograph was taken in 1968, shortly before his death.

With many thanks to Beryl Venn (nee Mabbs), daughter of Charles Mabbs, 12th August 1891 – 5th July 1969.

Fashion in the 1940s

Fashion in the 1940s



1940s fashion book



Last week my 6th book was published – Fashion in the 1940s      

(Shire Library, October 2014).


The Second World War and its aftermath dominated dress during the 1940s, so the book focuses closely on Home Front fashion throughout the conflict and in the following years, as evidenced in family photographs, official government images, magazine advertisements, dressmaking patterns and surviving articles of dress.



milk man ww2 woman driving



The first chapter, Dressed for War, examines sartorial developments such as the siren suit and gas masks and the uniforms worn by women who joined wartime organisations and considers the ways in which everyday clothing was modified to suit wartime conditions and new work roles.




ration book ww2 1940s fashion



Restricted Fashion focuses on clothes rationing in Britain and what this meant for families from all social backgrounds; also the Utility scheme that from 1942 controlled much of the nation’s garment manufacture and the austerity measures that limited the amount of cloth and decoration that could be used for dresses, skirts, trousers, suits and coats.



make do and mend sewing ww2 1940s



The third chapter, Keeping Up Appearances, deals with the challenges of preserving a decent wardrobe and maintaining a respectable appearance at a time of growing shortages and restrictions. It includes details of the Government’s Make-Do and Mend scheme and demonstrates how women extended the life of their own and their family’s clothes and had to improvise when it came to hair and beauty products and cosmetics.



wedding ww2 canadian bomber command beaver lamb



The fourth chapter covers Bridal Wear during and after the war. It looks at 1940s bridal choices, including both romantic white wedding fashions and the smart civilian styles that were popular when weddings were arranged at short notice and there was no time to acquire a special white dress and veil.



new look fashion 1940s 1947 christian dior



Finally Post-War Style examines the development of fashion after the war. Christian Dior’s controversial ‘New Look’, launched in 1947, revived a sense of feminine glamour and, despite early criticism of its extravagant styling when Britain was still in the grip of rationing and austerity, versions of the new silhouette were widely adopted by the end of the decade.



1940s fashion bathing suit swim



Late-1940s bathing costume courtesy

Another major strand of late-1940s fashion was the development of colourful beachwear and a general trend towards youthful, comfortable separates, inspired by casual American fashions.

This is just a glimpse inside my new book. For the full story and dozens of beautiful contemporary illustrations, see Fashion in the 1940s:


This book is available from: Publisher