Sunday 3 February 2013

Lady Douglas Hamilton From Cohasset and 36,000 Hand-Knitted Sea Boot Socks

I think I have mentioned before that at Christmas we had very special and, by most standards, the largest socks to peg up on the mantle at Christmas. They were my father's sea boot socks from the war. (Did I ever tell you our dogs were called Boson and Skipper?) Well, now I know that is all thanks to very special knitters in the US that I had such a roomy Christmas sock. On January 14 while in France I read of the death of Lady Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton (on the right of this photograph) who organized the war-time Bundles for Britain which involved no less than 900,000 knitters across the States. So many, that I would think you probably have someone in your family who put their needles together to keep the Royal Navy from hypothermia. Not only did these kind knitters provide 18,000 pairs of socks, but also... hold your breath ... 40,000 sleeveless sweaters, 10,000 sweaters with sleeves, 30,000 scarves, 20,000 pairs of wristlets and mittens, 3,000 pairs of gloves, 50,000 pairs of regular socks, 2,000 jerkins, 8,000 caps and 300 crocheted blankets. And, deep intake of breath, that is not counting the 400,000 civilian garments. It makes me quite teary to think of this astonishing effort. But what is just as remarkable and heart-warming is the fact that the wool for knitting was not simply supplied, it had to be bought and funds had to be raised to buy it. And those funds came from more work - the sale of jams and cakes and other fundraisers - children in South Carolina raised $1,120 with a water-melon eating contest.
Here you can see a pair of the sea-boot socks - beautifully knit. Natalie Wales, as she was before marriage, was born in Cohasset, Massachusetts in 1909. Natalie was sent to Spence School in New York and came out as a debutante in 1928. She was married a few times before she met Wing Commander Lord Malcolm Avondale Douglas-Hamilton OBE, DFC, the Conservative MP for Inverness and brother to the Duke of Hamilton. She is survived by one daughter.


  1. I love this story, I just started knitting and wool socks are the best thing ever.

  2. Wow!!!! I live in the town next to cohasset!!! I will have to read more about her!!

  3. This brought back some forgotten memories to my mother, who knit for Bundles for Britain. Thanks for reminding some and making others aware of this program.