March 30, 2020


Keeping comfortable at home these days surely involves the use of pillows. During the Second World War, souvenir pillow covers made of nylon were manufactured for soldiers, airmen, and sailors to purchase for wives, sweethearts, mothers, and sisters. These covers resembled silk and were emblazoned with the symbol of the sender’s particular service branch or the name of the military base where he served, whether domestic or in theatre.

The idea was to cover an existing sofa pillow with one of these to add a patriotic motif to the living room. Aside from a “Son in the Service” pennant hanging in the window, visitors would see these covers and recognize that a relative from the home was serving in a particular branch of the service or at a particular base. A great many of these items have survived, and they can be readily found. A recent Ebay search revealed several hundred listings.

Far less common are the covers which feature Winston Churchill individually or together with Franklin D. Roosevelt. Thus far, only a handful of designs have been discovered, and they are significantly rarer than their counterparts. One such example is pictured here. Note the symbols used to surround Churchill’s portrait: the  “V for victory” hand sign, the large letter “V,” and the Morse code victory signal of three dots and a dash.

If you are browsing antiques, you may wish to wade through the plethora of Second World War pillow covers you are likely to find. Hopefully, you will find one with special meaning, like one from a base where a relative served. If you find one featuring Churchill alone or with FDR, however, you will know you have found a nice treasure.

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