Historical WW1 quilt donated to museum

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The Oamaru Red Cross donated an embroidered quilt made during World War 1 to the North Otago Museum on Thursday.

The quilt, which was made by the women of the Ardgowan-Weston Red Cross between 1915 and 1917, has been hanging in the Oamaru Red Cross rooms since it was restored and unveiled in 1994.

Museum curator (collections and exhibitions) Chloe Searle said the quilt was a timely donation because of the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of World War 1 this year and the centenary of the Red Cross next year.

“We’re really grateful to the Red Cross for offering this to the museum.”

A history of the quilt, compiled by Oamaru residents Jill and Peter Grenfell, stated that the quilt was made to be used at a New Zealand military hospital overseas.

It was thought that the quilt was destined for a hospital in Port Said, Egypt, where Nurse Isobel Clark, of Ardgowan, was stationed.

Nurse Clark had been there for a short time and was on the troopship Marquette en route from Alexandria to Salonika Greece when she lost her life after the ship was sunk by a torpedo on October 23, 1915.

The quilt was believed to be on board with Nurse Clark and never reached its destination.

At the end of the war, Mr S. J. Clark, of Auckland (who was a survivor of the Marquette tragedy but no relation to Nurse Clark), found the quilt when he was unwrapping Red Cross parcels in France.

He brought the quilt back to the 50th anniversary reunion of the sinking of the Marquette held in Christchurch in 1965 where it was agreed the quilt would be returned to Oamaru and given to the Red Cross.

The quilt, embroidered in red thread on white calico, is adorned with patriotic symbols such as badges and shields, together with flowers, birds and sheep.

Signatures and messages from the families involved from the district of Ardgowan and Weston are alongside the symbols.

In 1993, the local branch of the Red Cross raised the funds to have the quilt restored and it was carried out in consultation with the North Otago Museum.

The mayor at the time, Duncan Taylor, unveiled the restored quilt on May 26, 1994.

The quilt will be displayed at the North Otago Museum for the World War 1 exhibition set to open later this year.

It was previously going to be opened this month, but because many more items had been found to display, it had to be delayed.

By RUBY HARFIELD

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

DONATION: The World War 1 quilt that has been donated to the North Otago Museum by the Oamaru Red Cross.