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The D-Day Story museum in Portsmouth has published a new guidebook about the Overlord Embroidery; an 83 metre hand-stitched embroidery which tells the story of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

Stitching D-Day – the story of the Overlord Embroidery explains how the embroidery was created and who was involved, including:

  • Lord Dulveton, who commissioned the piece in 1968;
  • Sandra Lawrence, the young artist who designed it; and
  • The team of embroiderers from the Royal School of Needlework who made it.

The embroidery, which consists of 34 panels each measuring almost 2.5 x 1 metres, took five years to design and sew. The book features colourful images of Lawrence’s designs and close-up photographs that illustrate the skill with which the embroiderers translated her paintings into textile panels.

Overlord Embroidery at The D-Day Story museum

Tracy Teasdale, author of the guidebook, said: “The story of how an aristocrat, an artist and the Royal School of Needlework pooled their knowledge and expertise to create a unique and fitting tribute to all those who took part in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy is fascinating.

“I was lucky enough to meet Sandra Lawrence and four of the women who stitched the Overlord Embroidery and, wherever possible, the book uses their words to tell the story of how it was made. They really bring the project to life with their recollections of working at the Royal School of Needlework and the challenges of getting the details of the events portrayed correctly.”

The Overlord Embroidery is the largest object on show at The D-Day Story, taking its name from Operation Overlord, the code name for the military campaign planned by Britain and her allies to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation. On 6 June 1944, the largest armada in history left southern England and crossed the English Channel to land in Normandy, France. The battle that followed was a turning point in the Second World War and the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

Cllr Steve Pitt, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development at Portsmouth City Council, said: “The creation of the Overlord Embroidery and attention to detail is remarkable. Sandra Lawrence painted the designs for each of the panels before they were stitched by a team of highly skilled women at the Royal School of Needlework in London. Lawrence’s 34 paintings now hang in the Pentagon in Washington DC and we are proud to display the Overlord Embroidery at The D-Day Story. This new guidebook allows you to discover even more about Operation Overlord and the making of such an impressive piece of art.”

Stitching D-Day – the story of the Overlord Embroidery is available at The D-Day Story museum and on The D-Day Story website for £6.00. The Museum is a Visit England COVID-safe venue and is open every day from 10.00am to 5.00pm. Find out more at www.theddaystory.com.