Two of the oddest items in the box of wartime memorabilia that I inherited from my Dad in 1994 were the pair of red plastic hearts you can see below. Dad had never shown them to me, so I had no idea what their origin was – they seemed so incongruously cute sitting among the pieces of flak shell, dog tags and medals in the cardboard box. It took a few years for me to get around finally to trying to decode their meaning, and it is a touching story. The two hearts are examples of what was termed “sweetheart jewellery”, a common wartime form of (often) homemade trinket, meant to be sent home to wives and “sweethearts”. You can find a wide variety of examples for sale on eBay (which I admit I find rather sad...they meant a lot to someone at some point). During WW2 the British government frowned on jewellery production, as it was considered a waste of resources. However, it seems they turned a blind eye on whoever crafted the tiny silver wings that you can see embedded in the red perspex. The red material was likely salvaged from the navigation lights of a crashed airplane, the hearts then crafted by resourceful ground crew into the finished pendant, and sold to aircrew for them to mail home to loved ones far away. The pendants are just one example of many different kinds of decorative trinkets made during wartime from salvaged material – in WW1 they were known as “trench art” and often made from brass shell casings. I have no idea when or how my Dad sent these home to my Mom....were they both for her, sent at two different times? Or were they sent at the same time, one for his “sweetheart” and one for his son, baby Gary. After I found out a bit of the story behind the trinkets, I had them framed, along with my favourite picture of Mom and Dad, taken just before he shipped overseas in 1943.
Thanks for reading! The final countdown until The Job To Be Done is at last published has begun - I hope to have my hands on some copies and see it available in online bookstores in the next few weeks!
Clint L. Coffey is the author of The Job To Be Done, available now through FriesenPress. Check back soon for new blog posts