Thursday 6th June 2024 marks the 80th anniversary of Allied Forces conducting the largest seaborne invasion in history. Our paper conservator recently had the honour of stabilising a teleprinter communication of the D-Day plans, preserving valuable information and increasing the longevity of what was otherwise an incredibly fragile document. 

The Normandy landings, more commonly referred to as D-Day marked the beginning of the Second World War land offensive that would eventually lead to the liberation of France by the end of August 1944. The document was a personal heirloom that held strong sentimental and historical significance. 

Restoring a D-Day teleprint

Our client met with us in the studio to discuss the printed document, a copy from a teleprinter that listed the D-Day operations. He was hoping to have the document restored ahead of the anniversary this year. 

Originally, the print had belonged to our client’s father, who had served in the Royal Corps of Signals during World War II. It had been dated the 5th June 1944, the day that the invasion had originally been planned for, but had been delayed by 24 hours due to harsh weather conditions.

World War Two D Day print

It was observed that the document was in poor condition due to the degrading sticky tape, used to repair the print. We often see this type of damage on paper, as many people do not realise that they are causing more harm than good when applying adhesives. Over time this once clear tape had caused significant acidic staining on the paper, which could not be fully removed without affecting the printed words. Therefore, a conservation approach was taken to reduce the staining as much as was safe and possible, followed by relining the document onto Japanese tissue paper for stabilisation. 

The teleprint was also reframed with UV protective glazing, to ensure that the printer ink was protected from further deterioration through light exposure. Ink such as this is not made to last and therefore fades easily, especially if it is kept on display. In some cases even a shaded location will cause printed and handwritten ink to fade entirely. Therefore, our team always recommends UV protection when choosing a new frame. Second to this, the new mount was conservation safe, meaning that it had a low pH value. This is important to prevent the paper from becoming yellow through contact with acids. 

Preserving artefacts of World War II 

Our conservation team has previously restored various military artworks and war memorabilia. This can be a diverse mixture of items, from paintings and ceramics damaged in the air raids to uniforms and maps.

Paris WWII covered up paintingAbove: this painting was previously covered in paint to evade the Nazi officers in Paris

In 2021, we received an oil on canvas of a Parisian street scene that had originally belonged to the client’s grandmother, who escaped Nazi occupied Paris during the Second World War. The painting had escaped safely with her, disguised with house paint. Our brilliant conservators were able to carefully, with professional techniques and treatments, tackle the discolouration and clear the paint cover, which in parts, had been removed with previous restoration work. Today the house paint remains on the back of the canvas to mark this narrative in the painting’s history.

World War 2 map before restorationAbove: the map before restoration

Our paper conservator has also restored another important piece of wartime history; a map taken as a souvenir from the 1945 Yalta conference, attended by famous world leaders such as Churchill and Stalin to discuss the reorganisation of Germany and Europe after the war. The map had incurred results of accidental damage from mishandling over time, such as tears. Once again, our paper conservator provided a conservation approach to stabilise the map and only address the areas of risk of further deterioration. Passed down from a first officer in the Women’s Royal Navy Service who attended the conference, the map can now be seen and read for years to come.

World War 2 map after restorationAbove: the map after restoration

Our textile conservator has previously restored many military items, including a cap from the Second World War that had been affected by moth damage. We can provide a number of conservation framing and display options for your memorabilia, in order to preserve these historical artefacts.

Before and after of a military capAbove: the military cap before and after restoration

If you have military or wartime memorabilia, artworks and antiques, we can help you understand how to best care for and store them. Whether they are similar to the oil painting, cartography or document discussed, or photographs, medals, sculptures, metallic and wooden items, or textiles, we can restore ageing or damaged items and provide assistance with cleaning, storage and routine maintenance. 

How can we help?

If you have any questions about restoration and conservation, please do not hesitate to get in touch. As part of our service we offer a nationwide collection and delivery service as well as information on worldwide shipping to our studio. E-mail us via [email protected] or call 0207 112 7576 for more information.

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