The Overlord embroidery was commissioned by Lord Dulverton in 1968 and made by the Royal School of Needlework from designs by artist Sandra Lawrence. It commemorates the D-Day invasion of France during World War II.
It tells the story of Operation Overlord which was the code name for the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. The embroidery begins telling the story well before the invasion, with war-time production and The Blitz. It continues through the entry of the United States into the war, and the planning and preparation of the invasion. The majority of the work covers the crossing of the English Channel by the invasion fleet and the combat once the troops landed on the French coast. The embroidery ends with a scene of British infantry advancing as German troops retreat across the Seine.
There are 34 panels which together measure 83 metres (272 feet) in length. The Overlord embroidery is the longest work of its kind in the world and is 10 metres (33 feet) longer than the Bayeux tapestry. Twenty embroiderers worked for five years to create the embroidery. Battledress khaki and gold braid were appliqued onto the panels.
Since 1984 the embroidery has been housed in the D-Day museum in Southsea, Portsmouth.
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“It is, indeed, at home that every man must be known by those who would make a just estimate either of his virtue or felicity; for smiles and embroidery are alike occasional, and the mind is often dressed for show in painted honour, and fictitious benevolence.”
—Samuel Johnson (17091784)