One of the most important times for Teddy Bears was during the war years. I am looking at the First and Second World Wars in particular, but during all wars, the Teddy Bear can be one of your best friends, comrades and companions. It is always worth sending a soldier a Teddy Bear. The Teddy Bear will never leave him/her. Children of war torn countries also need Teddy Bears.
The Teddy Bear probably came into his own during the First World War years. Considering by the time the First World War began – 1914 – the Teddy Bear had not long been invented – 1902 – he was certainly very popular and much needed.
On leaving the country to go abroad on war duties, many soldiers were given a Teddy Bear as a good luck mascot by a loved one, a Mother, a Sister or indeed a Sweetheart. Many soft toy companies were quick to pick up on this fact and began making Teddy Bears for this very purpose. Let us not forget that German Teddy Bears could no longer be brought into the England due to the prohibition of all German goods (including Teddy Bears).
A British toy company called Farnell began making some little Teddy Bears in patriotic colours of red, white and blue. These beautiful little Teddy Bears were especially made to give to soldiers as good luck charms. They were ideal because they were small enough to fit inside a soldiers breast pocket, their eyes were also placed very high in their little heads, so they could see over the top of his pocket. These little Farnell Teddy Bears were often referred to as ‘Sweetheart Bears’ or ‘Soldier Bears’. Lots of these little Teddy Bears went into trenches alongside their soldier companions and many died alongside soldiers. However, some did survive and they do occasionally come up for auction today.
Twins David and Guy Campbell was born on 18 January 1910. These boys who attended Eton College in Berkshire, England spent most of their term holidays with their Grandmother, a Mrs Rosabelle Rawlins at her Manor House in Dorset. Whilst here, they were told some of the heroic exploits of their soldier ancestors, including the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854 and the failed relief of General Gordon at Khartoum in 1885. At Christmas and Birthdays, their Grandmother would gift them with Farnell Soldier Teddy Bears, one Christmas, can you believe, she gave them fifty of these little bears. The twin boys, rather than play with toy soldiers like other boys of their age, used these little Teddy Bears to re-enact some of the many adventures and battles which their Grandmother had told them of. The more Teddy Bears she gave to them, the more intricate their war battles were.
David and Guy Campbell had their favourite Teddy Bears, David called his ‘Grubby’ whilst Guy called his favourite Teddy Bear ‘Young’. When the twins grew up and joined the Army, they took their favourite Teddy bears with them. Grubby and Young went to war with the Campbell Twins.
Right up until their death, the twin boys were inseparable from their little bears. Sadly, David and Guy died within just two years of each other in the early 1990’s, when Grubby MC and Young MC went to live at the Puppenhausmuseum in Basel, Switzerland and the remaining little Farnell Teddy Bears (369 of them) were sold at auction in May 1999.
In 1916 Harwin & Co Ltd. launched a series of mascot Teddy Bears, designed by Dorothy Harwin, at a London Fair. These little Teddy Bears were known as Ally Bears. These beautiful Teddy Bears were dressed in the uniforms of allied forces of the First World War. What a shame that this company ceased in 1930, suffering the affects of post-war depression.
When the Second World War arrived, once again, all German products were banned and once again, that meant the Teddy Bear. However, most of the British soft toy companies had to close down because the factories and the employees were both required for war work. Materials became very scarce and so, during these very difficult of times, Mothers, Sisters, Grandmothers and Aunts, rose to the occasion and began making Teddy Bears themselves, often from recycled materials. Many old knitted sweaters were undone and re-knitted into Teddy Bears.
Many Teddy Bears were used as mascots by every section of the forces and also many people who were doing war work, even some men and women working at the famous Bletchley Park owned Teddy Bears, after all, they were not allowed to talk to fellow workers there, so their bears were needed. Teddy Bears always keep secrets.
Probably the most important work ever done by the Teddy Bear was taking care of children during World War 2, helping them get through the ravages of war. Can you imagine how important a Teddy Bear was to a child who was evacuated, he was probably the only friend they had for a while. The Teddy Bear was also a link with family back home.
Many wonderful Teddy Bears from both the First World War and the Second World War periods still survive to this day. Of course, many of these Old Bears are still owned by either original owners or their family, but many do come up for sale.
Gino loves fast cars, especially fast italian cars. Gino also loves anything Italian. Gino also heads an old teddy bear site which is full of adorable old teddy bears and their friends.
Please visit his website at www.ginosbears.co.uk