Uniforms and insignia

1. A camisole from the Lusitania

camisole fine white cotton and lace camisole with self-covered buttons and draw-string waist. The camisole is heavily stained and part of the lace is has loose stitching. The letter 'G' is embroidered on a tape attached to the garment.
© IWM (UNI 11978)
Margaret Gwyer was wearing this camisole when the liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat on 7 May 1915.

Margaret Gwyer was wearing this camisole when the liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat on 7 May 1915. She was one of almost 2,000 passengers and crew on board the ship as it sank - 1,200 people died in the attack. Gwyer fell from a lifeboat and was sucked into one of the ship’s funnels, but a boiler explosion blew her back to the water’s surface. She was rescued and kept the camisole as a reminder of her escape.

Souvenirs and ephemera

2. A bullet-damaged Bible

Soldier's small bible with black cover; bullet hole in bottom left corner of back, penetrating about one third of the way through the pages.
© IWM (EPH 2024)
This Bible is thought to have been in the left breast pocket of Gunner John Dickinson when he was hit in 1915.

There are many stories of lucky Bibles stopping bullets or shrapnel fragments and saving a soldier’s life during the First World War. This Bible is thought to have been in the left breast pocket of Gunner John Dickinson when he was hit in 1915.

Souvenirs and ephemera

3. A cigarette case

Hinged rectangular silver-coloured metal cigarette case with rounded corners. There are large ragged holes in the front and rear caused by shrapnel. A London Rifle Bde badge is affixed to front. Inside are two damaged strips of pink-coloured elastic for holding the cigarettes and the remains of six De Reszke cigarettes.
© IWM (EPH 1308)
Rifleman W S Main was carrying this cigarette case when he was struck by a shell fragment during the war.

Rifleman W S Main was carrying this cigarette case when he was struck by a shell fragment during the war. The case bore the brunt of the projectile’s force and prevented Main from being seriously injured. He survived his injuries and eventually returned to active service.

Souvenirs and ephemera

4. A lucky charm

Four-leaf clover made from Connemara marble; topmost leaf is pierced for suspension cord.
© IWM (EPH 3464)
A marble shamrock that might be worn on a cord or chain around the neck as a lucky charm.

Some objects were considered lucky not because of circumstance, but because of the beliefs or superstitions of their owners. Many soldiers carried lucky charms. The charms often took the form of traditional symbols of good luck, like this shamrock. Made from Connemara marble, it has a hole in the top so it might be worn on a cord or chain around the neck.

Souvenirs and ephemera

5. A piece of coal

a small piece of coal sent to a soldier at the Front for luck in 1917.
© IWM (EPH 4894)
This piece of coal was sent to a soldier as a token of luck in 1917.

A charm could provide comfort to the soldier carrying it. Some men carried charms for protection, in the hope that it would help them avoid injury or death. This piece of coal was sent to a soldier as a token of luck in 1917.

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