Pillow shams, or ‘sweetheart pillow covers’, were souvenirs from Army camps sent to parents, wives or sweethearts. This was an old tradition that continued during and after WW2. There are many designs, but here I focus on those related to paratroops and gliders. Usually, these items were not dated, so to be able to confirm them as WW2 and not post-war, we need to look at the names of camps and units that are used. For example, the ‘Airborne’ as an organization was mostly a post-war term. During the war, ‘Paratroops’ wanted to distinguish themselves from the glider troops. Another clue can be the existence of the camps after the war. For example, Camp Mackall was created out of nothing during the war and decommissioned before the end of the war. Camp Toccoa was open before the war, but paratroops were of course only trained there during the war, and it closed again at the end of the war.
The examples below are all about the same size (20 x 20″) and made of rayon satin fabric. Some are said to be made of silk, but that would surprise me, as silk is rather fragile. Rayon is almost as smooth, but much stronger. This size is ideal for small pillows, but rather unsuitable for framing (standard frames being mostly rectangular instead of square).
My own pillow shams can be recognized by the nicer pictures. I still see similar ones sold on e-Bay now and then, but I have stopped buying them, even though they are generally inexpensive. If you have one, please send me a picture, so I can add it to the article with your name. Any further background info is also greatly appreciated.
|Camp Toccoa, Georgia||Fort Benning, Georgia||Fort Benning, Georgia|
|Camp Toccoa was a training camp for paratroopers during WWII. The facility was initially named Camp General Robert Toombs after a Confederate Civil War General. It was adjacent to the Currahee Mountains. Ironically, ‘Currahee’ meant ‘stand alone’ in the local Indian language and the troopers immediately adopted it as their regimental motto since that was their objective behind enemy lines. The camp closed at the end of the war. More Toccoa-trivia||Fort Benning is named for BG Henry L. Benning, a Confederate army general and a native of Columbus, Georgia. It was established in October 1918 as Camp Benning, and did not receive permanent quarters and status until World War II. This is where paratroops went to learn to jump. First off drop towers, then from real planes. I also have a picture of an identical design, also from Fort Benning, but with a poem ‘To my Wife’.||This one is probably WWII, as it mentions Paratroops instead of Airborne.Toward the end of November 1942, the 506th PIR was ordered to move from Camp Toccoa to Fort Benning for parachute training. More Fort Benning-trivia|
|Fort Bragg, North Carolina||Fort Bragg, North Carolina||Fort Bragg, North Carolina|
|Camp Bragg was renamed Fort Bragg, to signify becoming a permanent Army post, on September 30th, 1922. Mainly paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne trained at Bragg and it still is their home today.
More Fort Bragg-trivia.
This pillow cover has a poem for My Wife.
|Poem for Sweetheart||Another one from Fort Bragg. This has the Paratroopers Prayer on it. The only one I have seen with this.
|Fort Campbell, Kentucky||Fort Campbell, Kentucky||Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky|
|This one is also post-war. The design looks very 1950s to me.
With poem for Mother.
|This one is marked Paratroopers instead of Airborne, so it could have been wartime example, but the 11th Airborne Division didn’t arrive at Campbell until the spring of 1949, following occupation duty in Japan. The 11th was in residence there until early 1956. Today it’s the home of the 101st Airborne.
More Fort Campbell-triviaIt looks like it has a dedication for a Master, or maybe it says Mother. It’s hard to see.
|The 101st Airborne Division was reactivated as a training unit at Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, in 1948 and again in 1950, so these two are post-war pillow covers.
With poem for Mother & Dad.
|Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky||Camp Mackall, North Carolina||Camp Mackall, North Carolina|
|Another one from Breckenridge for a Sweetheart.
Sorry, Wikipedia did not yet have a dedicated article on Camp Breckinridge when I wrote this, but there is some info about it in the article on Morganfield, Kentucky
|On November 8, 1942, construction began on the Hoffman Airborne Camp. On February 8, 1943, General Order Number 6 renamed the facility Camp Mackall in honor of Private John Thomas (Tommy) Mackall of the 2nd Battalion, 503rd PIR. During the Allied invasion of North Africa in the airborne segment called Operation Torch, he was mortally wounded in an attack by French Vichy aircraft on his aircraft as it landed near Oran. In coordination with the 1st Troop Carrier Command stationed at Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base in Scotland County, paratroopers and glider troops stationed at Camp Mackall jumped into fields at Camp Mackall and loaded, flew in and unloaded gliders. Today, Camp Mackall is a sub-installation of Fort Bragg. which is home to the XVIII Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Headquarters. Camp Mackall is the setting of primary training to become a member of U.S. Army Special Forces.
More about Camp Mackall
To Mother and Dad
|This pillow case is interesting because it is specifically dedicated to the glider troops and it features the insignia of the Troop Carrier Command.|
|Stout Field, Indiana||Laurinburg Maxton, North Carolina
||Laurinburg Maxton, North Carolina
|Stout Field was built in the 1920s by the city of Indianapolis as a municipal airport & a home for the Indiana National Guard. It was also initially known as the Mars Hill Airport, and it was the first airport to provide Indianapolis with passenger & mail service.
In early 1942 the Army Air Forces leased the by then nearly empty airport from the state and converted it into a training field & headquarters for the newly created I Troop Carrier Command. It operated C-47, C53 & C-46 transports. In 1944 Stout acquired a glider pick-up school as well. The airfield at Stout Field was significantly expanded during WW2.
More about Stout FieldFor a Sweetheart
|Laurinburg Maxton was a vital hub of Glider operations throughout the war and it’s ultimate place of death when the program was closed int he late 1940’s. Flocked design of CG-4 glider and towplane over 1st Troop Carrier command patch design and scene of troops disembarking from a landed CG-4 Glider. Poem to Mother.
||Similar design, but with C-46 / C-47s instead of gliders and a poem to Mother and Dad.|
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This article describes the pillow covers that I own or have pictures of. You are welcome to contribute with any additional pictures and information you may have.