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WW2 Red Cross Reproduction Knitting Patterns

WW2 Red Cross Knitting Patterns

WW2 Red Cross Reproduction Knitting Patterns for WW2 Reenactors

During World War I and again during World War II, the American Red Cross launched nationwide, volunteer-driven knitting campaigns to supply soldiers and war refugees with warm clothing. These volunteer knitters belonged to a Red Cross unit called the Production Corps that also produced bandages and sewn garments (such as pajamas) for veterans and civilian hospitals.

Military knitting patterns were designed to be compatible with soldiers’ and sailors’ uniforms and were required to be knitted in olive drab or navy blue. Production Corps volunteers would also knit from patterns designed for convalescing soldiers, such as the “Walking Cast Toe Sock,” the “Cap for the Bandaged Head” and the “Man’s Coat Sweater.”

The chart below shows some different patterns for knitting. The Wristlets pattern comes courtesy of the Estate of Ray and Anita Sexton, Oneida, TN (*).

Wristlets*Army Navy Helmet (png file)Man’s Sock Medium Type 2 (zip file)Cap Muffler (png file)
AfghanChild’s Knitted SuitChild’s Sweater Brooks TypeChild’s Sweater Toddler Pack
GlovesMan’s Coat SweaterMan’s Socks Type 1Man’s V-Neck Sweater, Sleeveless
Muffler Type 1Navy Iceland SweaterWatch Cap
Woman’s V-Neck Cardigan

During World War II, the Red Cross Production Corps was by far the most popular unit with over 3.5 million members, spread throughout 3,304 chapters. Unlike other volunteer jobs, there was no prerequisite training, and recruitment and task assignments were accomplished quickly. The women, and in some cases the men, that volunteered enjoyed the camaraderie and the fact that workrooms were set up not only at chapter buildings, but also at schools, churches, and other public or private facilities for their convenience.

From 1939 to 1946 the volunteers of the Production Corps made: 63,552,649 garments for civilians and the military 1,403,158 infant garments 31,237,900 kit bags containing cigarettes, playing cards, soap etc. 2,481,951,637 surgical dressings Production Corps volunteers were broken down into committees organized by task. They included surgical dressings, sewing, and knitting.

Detailed instructions, patterns, and supplies were issued by the National Headquarters to chapters and each was assigned a quota to fill. Chapters had volunteers in charge of inspection, planning and supplies, workrooms and equipment, instruction, and packing and shipping

Men’s Sweaters at Work and Play Book No.188

This was a knitting booklet made in 1942 by Chadwick’s Red Heart Wools, a knitting company. It’s 22 pages long and has knitting instructions for the following garments

  • The “Blueprint” for America Button-up Sweater
  • The “At Ease” Sweater
  • The Champion V-neck Sweater
  • The Grandstander – a scarf and glove set
  • The Match Play Sweater Vest
  • The Victory Sweater Vest
  • The Defense Worker Button-up Sweater
  • The Practical Worker Button-up Sweater Vest
  • Top Flighters Sweater Vest
  • The Double or Nothing Sweater Vest
  • The Football Heroes Pullover Sweater
  • The Standby Sweater – which is illustrated on the cover

You can download the Men’s Sweaters at Work and Play Book No.188 as a pdf here.

Knit for Defense Book No. 172

This was a knitting booklet made in 1941 by Chadwick’s Red Heart Wools, a knitting company. It’s 22 pages long and has knitting instructions for the following garments. It has instructions for the following patterns

  • Round or Turtleneck Pullover
  • Crew Neck Pullover
  • Plain gloves and scarf
  • Chest Protector
  • Helmet with or without ear flats – designed to go under an M1 Helmet
  • Mittens
  • Sleeveless V-Neck Pullover
  • Square Neck Pullover and Cap
  • Sleeveless High-Neck Pullover
  • Trigger Gloves – gloves that have slots just for your thumb and index finger
  • Marksman’s Gloves – gloves that stop at the 2nd joint of a finger
  • Plain Sock
  • Spiral Sock
  • V-Neck Pullover
Knit for Defense a 1941 kitting guide by Chadwicks Red Heart Wools

You can download the Knit for Defense No.172 book as a pdf here.

Practical, Warm Hand Knits for Service Men WW2 Red Cross Knitting Patterns

This is another Red Cross knitting pattern. The booklet is Volume 318, dated 1940. Below are some images from the booklet and external links which explain more about the patterns.

The links below are a digitized copy of the content found in the Red Cross knitting document, Warm Hand Knits for Servicemen. Read Me First: WWII Knitting FAQ

WWII Plain SocksWWII Hats and HelmetsWWII Mittens and GlovesWWII V-Neck Sweater
WWII TurtleneckWWII Sweater VestWWII Ear Muffs, Wristlets, Knee Caps, Muffler

Hand Knits for Service Men – 40 Garments for Men in the Armed Forces

This is a 26-page book that includes 40 different knitting patterns. It was copyrighted in 1944 by Book Productions Industries Inc and published by Ethel Evans.

Hand Knits for Service Men front page with solider resting in a bed. Background of page is yellow.

The book contains knitting patterns for:

  • Heavy Turtleneck with Sleeves
  • Army-Navy Pullover
  • Turtleneck Sleeveless Pullover
  • V-Neck Pullover
  • V-Neck Service Pullover
  • Service Pullover
  • Convalescent Sweater Jacket
  • Wheelchair Afghan
  • Knit Wheelchair Afghan
  • Navy Pattern Afghan
  • Cap Helmet
  • Balaclava Heavy Weight
  • Balaclava Light Weight
  • Watch Cap
  • Navy Gloves
  • Rifle Gloves
  • Steel Helmet
  • Regulation Helmet
  • Cap
  • Army Mitts
  • Army Gloves
  • Officers Navy Gloves
  • Wristlets
  • Trigger Gloves
  • Wristlet with Thumb
  • Knee Length Socks
  • Turtle Neck Tuck In
  • Navy Chest Protector
  • Navy Scarf
  • Slot Mitts
  • Air Force Ascot Scarf
  • Merchant Marine Rib Pattern Turtle Neck Sleeveless Pullover
  • Hospital Bed Socks

Hand Knits for Servicemen can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Ethel Evans is actually the pen name of Ethel Rodman. She is a minor celebrity in the world of knitting and crocheting, as she published several authoritative books in this manner. Her brother is Edward Ray Goetz, a Hollywood producer, songwriter, and musician, who at one time was married to actress Irene Bordoni.

Ethel’s sister was Dorothy Goetz who at one time was married to Irving Berlin. Ethel and her sister are buried with their parents in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery (section 9, Lot 282).

Ethel Rodman Obituary

Now, oddly, she has a connection to UFOs. She witnessed a UFO incident called “Incident 88” or “Hackensack Event” because it was reported on Aug 3rd, 1947 in Hackensack, NJ. She sent letters and photos to the Air Force for about a year but stopped near the end of 1948. Incident 88 has a redacted archived copy that you can see.

PostWar: Jack Frost Two Needle Mittens Vol 56

This is a knitting guide made in 1947 by the Jack Frost Yarn Company. The company itself may have first started in 1928 according to the date it was trademarked.

Jack Frost Two Needle Mittens Vol.56 1947 Front Cover

The booklet contains the following patterns. Much of it seems to be kid focused and there may not be much use for WW2 Reenacting but the Men’s or Ladies mittens might work

  • 2 types of Infant Mittens
  • Thumbless Mittens
  • 8 types of Classic Mittens
  • Ribbed Mittens
  • Norwegian-Type Mittens
  • Cable-back Mittens
  • Braided-cable Mittens
  • Speed-knit Mittens
  • Striped Mittens
  • Ombre Mittens
  • 2 types of Lady’s Mittens
  • 2 types of Men’s Mittens

You can download the booklet as a pdf here.

Men’s Mittens No.5622 and No.5621

Ladies Mittens No.5620
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WW2 American Red Cross Recipes

WW2 American Red Cross Recipes

WW2 American Red Cross Recipes

A selection of WW2 American Red Cross Recipes for the World War Two Reenactor.

“Red Cross records indicate the organization purchased enough flour between 1939 and 1946 to make 1.6 billion doughnuts. Red Cross women were serving doughnuts at the rate of 400 per minute during the years 1944-1946.

Red Cross Doughnuts

1.5 cups of sifted flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. butter or substitute, melted
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup sour milk (buttermilk)
1 egg, well beaten

Combine half of the flour with soda, salt, and ginger. Combine egg, molasses, sour milk, and melted butter or substitute. Blend with flour mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add remaining flour to make dough of sufficient body to be rolled. Roll on floured board, to the thickness of 1/4inch. Cut with doughnut cutter. Fry in deep hot fat (360 degrees) until lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on brown paper.”

Christmas Packages

Shipping the WW2 American Red Cross Recipes such as in a package required following special guidelines.

“Anyone hoping to send a package overseas was advised to mail early–anytime from Sept 15 through Oct 15. The post office listed a series of guidelines for those mailing packages

‘…The weight limit is 5 pounds. Parcels may not be more than 15inches in length and 36inches in length and girth combined.’ ” Later on, a gift container was manufactured (sorry no picture) it measured 10 by 6 by 4 inches. (119)

“We searched for small compact items that packed well and could survive being shipped thousands of miles. We collected stationery, pencils, airmail stamps, paperback books, Western and detective magazines, canned foods, candy bars, chewing gum, fruit-flavored powdered drinks, dried packaged fruit such as raisins, dates, and prunes, hometown newspapers, Readers Digests, playing cards, heavy socks, and of course snapshots of home folks were especially welcome” (120)

“Packing Cookies took special care. Even though cookies were wrapped and rewrapped in layers of shredded waxed paper or tissue, and then tucked inside tin boxes, they still often arrived in bits and pieces. Not many complained, though. Instead, they shared the contents of their Christmas boxes with buddies not so fortunate” (121)

Soft Oatmeal Cookies (p.121)

1 cup raisins and 1/2 cup water. Cook until hot.

Simmer 10-105 minutes. In a bowl add the following and cream well:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup shorting (margarine is ok)

1/2 tsp. salt

Add: 2 eggs, beaten well

Mix in: 2 cups flour

Add 1/2 cup nuts, chopped

1/2 cup coconut

2 cups oatmeal

1 tsp vanilla

Drain the raisins, save the liquid and measure 5 T. raisin liquid. If there is not enough juice, add water to make 5 T. Dissolve 1 tsp. baking soda in the juice. Add the cookie batter and stir in the raisins last. Drop by tsp. on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes.

Wartime Cookies

1 beaten egg

2 cups molasses

3/4 cup melted shorting

1 cup warm milk

2 T. baking soda; dissolve in 2 T. warm water

5 cups flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

1.5 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ginger

Add ingredients in the above order, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Be sure to stir in the flour (sifted with other dry ingredients) a little at a time. Drop on a greased baking sheet with a teaspoon and bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned.


1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

3 T. cocoa

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix well, put in a greased 9×9 cake pan. Bake at 350 Degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Frost when cool.

Serviceman Special Candy

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup cream

1lb marshmallows

1 T. butter

1 cup nuts

1.5 squares bittersweet chocolate

3 cups graham cracker crumbs

Combine sugar, cream, butter, chocolate, and vanilla. Cook to softball stage. Remove from fire and stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon into buttered pan. Press firm and cut into squares.

Victory Muffins (p.85)

2 T. shortening

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1 cup All-Bran

1 cup sifted flour

2 1/2 TSB. baking powder

1/2 TSB. salt

DIRECTIONS: Beat shortening and egg together until well blended. Add All-Bran and milk and let stand for at least 20 minutes. (This may be done in the evening, adding dry ingredients in the morning.) Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the first mixture, stirring only until liquid and dry ingredients are combined. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven. For small muffins, bake 25minutes; for large muffins, bake 30 minutes. Makes 12 small or 8 large muffins.

Raisin Honey Sandwiches (p.162)

1 cup raisins, chopped

1/8 TSB. salt

1 T. mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/4 cup nuts, chopped

1 1/3 T. lemon juice

3 T honey

DIRECTIONS: Combine ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Use as filling between thin buttered slices of either brown or white bread.

Military Punch

2 cups boiling water

1 to 3 cups lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1 T. rum extract

2 cups cold strong tea

1 large bottle of ginger ale

1 cup orange juice


Boil water and sugar for 5 minutes. After it has cooled, add orange juice, lemon juice, extract, and tea. Add ginger ale and ice and serve.

Halloween Cider Punch

2 cups pineapple juice

1 cup lemon juice

1 cup orange juice

Lemon rind


2 Quarts cider

2 cups strong tea

2 quarts ginger ale

Orange rind

Mix fruit juices and orange and lemon rind, cut into pieces. Add cider and tea and put in a large punch bowl. Just before serving, add ginger ale and ice. Serves 65-70. A sugar syrup may be added.

V Loaf (p.63)

2 cups cooked rice

1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped nut meats

1 cup cooked tomatoes

1 egg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

2 T. green pepper chopped

4 t. melted butter or margarine

1 small onion, chopped

DIRECTIONS: Mix all together to form a loaf. Bake in a greased loaf pan in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Cover with mashed potatoes put back in the oven to brown. Serve with tomato sauce. This recipe defies detection as a substitute meatloaf and is very good.

Mr. John Burger (p. 24)

1 pound hamburger

1/2 tsp horseradish mustard

1 egg

Small onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Mix well and spread on bread slices. Makes about 9 slices. Broil until brown–about 9 minutes.

Red Cross POW Packages

” In the beginning of the war commercial firms put together these packages. Later on, the Red Cross volunteers took over [. . .] [t]hey assembled monthly packages for French, Polish and other allied prisoners [. . .] [a]long with the food packages, clothing, shoes comfort articles and medical supplies were also sent” (79 Edson).

The packages measured “10 inches square and 4.5 inches deep and weighed exactly 11 pounds, as prescribed by the German postal regulations. Red Cross nutrition experts had put together a list of items determined as most effectively supplementing prison camp diet. The boxes contained a variety of items that may have included:

A five-ounce box of raisins; a half-pound of American cheese; one pound can of powdered milk; 12 ounces of corned beef from Argentina; a 6 ounce can of ‘Brunch’ (Pork Luncheon Meat) which consisted of chopped pork, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrate; a 2 ounce can of coffee; a 7 ounce can of tuna fish; a half-pound box of sugar cubes; a 6 ounce box of army K2 biscuits; four bars of guest size toilet soap; one pound can of oleomargarine; four Hershey chocolate bars; and a can of pate (Liver Paste) which was a mixture of milk, chopped pork livers, pork fat, onions, oats, soy, grits, whole wheat, yeast, defatted wheat germ, and hydrolyzed plant protein.


Red Cross Parcels Wikipedia Link

The Red Cross also sent seeds and tools, along with cookbooks to the prison of war camps, where prisoners were sometimes allowed to cultivate vegetable gardens.

Many times a word from home did more good than anything. The ‘Red Cross News.’ a publication containing favorite comics, news items, sports news, and special articles was distributed to the prisoners of war on a regular basis” (79).

WW2 American Red Cross Recipes Source

Edson, Laurie J., “American Red Cross 50th Anniversary World War Two Cookbook.” Cedar Falls, IA,  Woolverton Publishing Company. 1993. Amazon link here

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Games of the World War Two Soldier

Board and Card Games for the Allied Soldier

World War Two games were an important part of a solider’s life. As a Second World War enthusiast and historical reenactor, I thought I might share an especially small and unknown historical niche in the history and hobby: Games.

Continue reading Games of the World War Two Soldier