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tablecloth, signature

human history
tablecloth, signature 1999.76.1

Images and documents



  • Credit Line
    Collection of Auckland Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira, 1999.76.1
  • Primary Maker

     Mrs P Simmonds (Maker)

     Mrs Ansell (Maker)

  • Place
  • Date
  • Associated Notes

    Signature tablecloth embroidered by Mrs Emma (Pat) Simmonds and her mother Mrs Ansell during WW2.

    About 1940 Pat Simmonds decided to make a signature cloth and began collecting names and signatures of people leaving New Zealand, off to war. She and her mother (Mrs Ansell) had heard of someone who had been on holiday and had embroidered the names of all the places they had been to. Pat and her mother decided to embroider the names / signatures of all the people they knew who were off to war. Shortly after this Pat's husband, Carl Simmonds, enlisted in with 24 Infantry Battalion, and his signature was one of the first recorded on the cloth before his departure in 1941.

    Pat also got the names of all the Americans from the canteen where she helped out serving tea and coffee in the evenings. Some of the names they sent away for, and sometimes they sent the cloth to people who were asked to sign it, Pat wrote to someone in Wellington and got the signatures of some entertainers. The cloth also includes the signature of Lord Nuffield which had been collected by her parents when they were on holiday in the UK in 1939. Lord Nuffield had been on the same ship but didn't want to sit at a 1st Class table, and instead sat at same table as the Ansells and signed their menu. The cloth also includes signatures of US personnel from Waikaraka Camp where Pat helped serve tea and coffee in the evenings. The cloth was finished after the war. Among the last signatures to be added were the names of several men who had been in a German Prisoner of War camp with Carl Simmonds (who had been taken prisoner at Sidi Rezegh in November 1941). These were gathered after the war had ended.

    Pat Simmonds (nee Ansell) was born in 1913. She grew up in Onehunga and attended Onehunga School. Prior to her marriage to Carl Henry Simmonds in 1936 she worked as a dress-maker. In Carl and Pat bought a section in Mt Smart, and built their own home, moving into it in 1939. Carl joined up in 1941, enlisting with 24th Infantry Battalion. He was captured at Sidi Rezegh and spent the rest of the war in prisoner of War Camps in Italy and Germany. In her husband's absence Pat moved in with her mother and rented out the Mt Smart home. She was manpowered during the war - the authorities wanted her to work at Westfield Freezing works but she didn't want to go there and instead went down to the Post Office. Although the Post Office didn't like employing married women, because you never knew when the husbands might come back, Pat assured them that as her husband was a POW she would be able to work right through. She loved working there - she had never previously had much to do with men in workplace and found she liked it. The men worked as mail sorters, the women as post-girls.

    During the war the boys often came down from the US CB (Sea Bee - Construction Battalion) camp at Waikaraka. Pat Simmonds went down to camp every night (she went down with Mick Smith later President of the Rugby Union) and made cups of tea and coffee. They were picked up and returned home, and her mum told her "If you see anyone who is lonely bring them home to have a meal." Coming home from the canteen one night, going through Onehunga, Pat saw that an American had stabbed one of our guys with a pitchfork - "they took him to 39 General Hospital". Pat also visited at the hospital.

  • Associated Event
    WW2; 1939-1945
  • Associated Person
  • Associated Place
  • Technique
  • Period
  • Media/Materials
  • Measurement Description
    h x w: 1060mm x 1100mm
  • Measurement Reading



  • Subject Category
  • Classification
  • Last Update
    24 Oct 2023
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