Beauty out of pain: Canadian soldiers' embroidery was therapy for the scars of war

Posted In: News Date:Nov 9th, 2018

By the time Lance-Cpl. James Ernest Muth sailed from Britain back to Canada in the spring of 1919, he had suffered gas attacks and shrapnel wounds. Having fought from Vimy Ridge to Amiens, he returned home to Ontario with painful memories of the Great War.

As traumatic as those experiences were, efforts to help him overcome the strain of what he had endured also gave him an unlikely skill: the ability to do intricate needlework.

Like many other British Empire soldiers injured in the First World War, Muth was hospitalized in England. While recovering, he was introduced to stitching by women from Britain's Royal School of Needlework and helped make an embroidery that found a home on the altar at London's famed St. Paul's Cathedral.

"Both hands were terribly wounded and it was good therapy," his son, Malcolm Muth, said at his home in Port Dover, Ont.