Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.


War correspondents have, and continue to risk their own personal safety in order to capture a story and communicate news. The first war correspondents from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Art Holmes and Robert Bowman, shipped out from Halifax in late 1939, and for the duration of the war vested themselves in standard military attire. Identical to that of the soldiers on the front whose stories they was capturing, Holmes and Bowman were given military uniforms. Although correspondents were neither soldiers nor members of the armed forces, they were given military priority and respect by association of what this uniform signified.

With consideration of the intimate linkage of this piece and the history of journalism, Holmes’ uniform functions both literally and semiologically as a story telling medium. Holmes wore this in order that he could correspond, or literally act as a medium between the front lines and those at home in Canada. As such, this object functions semiologically in a true Marshall McLuhan “the medium is the message” sense. As the medium of transmission (what he wore in order to do this work), Holmes and all extensions of Holmes (the uniform) are in fact the very message that it sought to portray- the stories of the front, the troops, and the war. Holmes was wearing the stories that he was transmitting.

As a material culture artefact, this uniform is telling not only of the Second World War, but also the history of war correspondence and early methods of journalism, as well as association to the technologies that made such correspondences possible. Because the uniform was the same as the military, this object also makes valuable links to the correlation between journalists and members of the armed forces. These analyses will illustrate how this artefact, worn by the person who was recording history, is in fact, a significant piece of that history itself.