1950s engagement

Grace Kelly’s Engagement Dress

Reveille produced this sewing pattern to Commemorate the Engagement of Hollywood Actress Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier of Monaco. The photos are from the press conference announcing the engagement and the photo of the Branell dress is the one worn by Kelly.

The sewing pattern is available in my shop (link below) it’s a 36in Bust, price £120/$93/€100



I’m very sorry for the lack of these stories. I’ve been busy with school as well as other things. (I should be studying for my English exam tomorrow but I don’t know how, so I ended up writing this)

Larry Thorne -  Lauri Allan Törni - The Soldier of 3 Armies

Lauri Allan Törni was born in Viipuri, Finland on the 28th may 1919. As he didn’t like school much, he volunteered for the Army in September 1938, a year before his national service. He made it through Basic and was sent to the NCO-school and further to veterinary NCO-school. He was promoted to corporal on 1st March 1939. He served as a supply corporal in Jääkäripataljoona 4 (Jaeger meaning basically light infantry) until November 1939, by which time his national service period was over. However, due to the threat of Soviet Union, he was immediately recalled to active service. He had one evening/night to enjoy civilian life. 

On 30th of November 1939, Soviet Union invaded Finland and the Winter War began. Törni served in the 13. Division as JP 4 had been assigned to it, north of Lake Ladoga. The area was heavily wooded but the Red Army pressed ahead with overwhelming numbers. The battles were extreme heavy and by the end of January 1940, supply corporal Törni volunteered (and was accepted) to perform scouting patrols. He performed so well that he was temporarily made an acting sergeant and a squad leader. As casualties mounted and Törni continued to survive and perform well, his commanding officers decided to send him to RUK - the Reserve Officer School - but before he could depart, Major Aarnio, the CO of his battalion, ordered him to take command of one of the companies in Er.P 18 (Independent Battalion 18) because all the officers in that company had been killed or wounded. To avoid prestige issues, Törni was promoted to Officer-Candidate, so that the older sergeants could not pull seniority over him. He first became noticed by the public at this time, as the Finnish forces desperately fought to destroy the encircled Soviet 168. Division before the Red Army could rescue it. 

On 5th February, Törni was finally sent to RUK, to receive the formal training to become an officer. He was assigned to the machine gun platoon. Though Winter War ended on 13th March, Törni’s schooling did not. He was promoted to Vänrikki (a special rank in the Finnish Army not present in US/UK military but a step below 2nd Lieutenant, basically a platoon leader) on 9th May. 

As Germany ramped up plans for Operation Barbarossa, Finland allowed the SS to recruit few hundred volunteers to serve with other Nordics in the 5. SS-Division “Wiking”. Törni joined on 6th June 1941. He did not speak German and did not appreciate the Prussian military decorum, which called “mindless and pointless worship of rank and discipline”. As there were no free officer vacancies, Törni returned to Finland on 30th July. 

However, by that time, Finland had found herself again at war with the Soviet Union - the Continuation War had begun. He applied to join the notorious Kevyt Osasto 8 (Light Squadron 8), led by Cavalry Captain Lars Rönnquist. Törni was accepted and appointed as a MG-platoon leader and later promoted to a tank platoon leader. The Squadron was part of 1. Division, attacking at Aunus.

Törni’s T-26 tank platoon could not follow the rest of the squadron as it continuously bypassed Soviet strong points over cross-country, so he was attached to JR 29 (Infantry Regiment) instead. His platoon performed well but not exceptionally. As Finns achieved their objectives, Törni had to give up his tanks for the forming of the Finnish Armoured Brigade. Instead, he was transferred to JR 56 to become a rifle platoon leader. He promoted active patrolling and scouting of enemy lines, and thus was wounded during one of such trips as he skied into a mine. Mine fragments were dug out of body and he was partially paralyzed for several months but at least got a promotion to Lieutenant. Best part? This recon trip was unauthorized and Törni undertook it just to capture some prisoners, as any soldier bringing back a prisoner would receive leave and Törni had his eye on a certain supply lady working behind the lines - Ilona Oesch.

When the hospital released him, Törni was ordered to go home for two months to recover. When the two months were up, he did not show up in the hospital for a check-up. The chief doctor reported to JR 56 that lieutenant Törni had gone AWOL. The regiment CO replied that lieutenant Törni had been serving on the front line for over a month already. The incident made news both at the front and back home. 

In January 1943, 1. Division decided to establish two Sissi (Ranger) companies. Törni was assigned as the commanding officer of the second one. During the spring, he actively trained his company and performed multiple small scouting missions behind enemy lines. As the front line was literally in the middle of nowhere, his company often patrolled behind the Finnish front lines, hunting down Soviet scouts and saboteurs.

On 3rd December 1943, Törni had so impressed his superiors, that he was commanded to establish a reinforced jaeger company called Detachment Törni (Osasto Törni). His detachment continuously dueled with the Soviet 33. Ski Brigade. His fame had grown to such levels that the Soviet propaganda radio promised a reward of 3 million Finnish marks for his head.

During the spring of ‘44, the future president of Finland, Mauno Koivisto, joined the detachment. He later commented that Törni was a good, careful leader but one who did not care about discipline or appearances. Törni’s unit was used as a “firebrigade” and performed many counter-attacks, as the Red Army intensified actions along the front. Most famous of which was the battle of the Seesjärvi base, where a battalion of Soviets managed to encircle a Finnish base. Though outnumbered 2-1, Törni led his company to an aggressive counter-attack to relieve the base and succeeded beyond all expectations. 82 dead Soviets were later counter, while his unit only lost eight dead. 

During the summer, as the Soviet offensive along the Karelian Isthmus intensified, many Finnish formations were pulled there, leaving Törni’s detachment responsible for a growing part of the front line. During June and July of '44, his company lost over third of its strength but had inflicted at least quadruple casualties to the enemy. He was awarded the Mannerheim-cross, the most coveted award in Finland. He became the 144th recipient of the medal. In the award text, the final line reads that “his myth-like luck in combat cannot last, so hopefully this award reaches him soon”. He had already received the Iron Cross from Germans in 1943.

In August 1944, he was promoted to captain. The Continuation War ended on 5th September 1944. Finland had remained  independent, albeit through a heavy cost.

But Lauri wasn’t content even though he had been honorably discharged. He was certain that Soviet Union was preparing for a surprise invasion and occupation of Finland. He became entangled in an illegal operation for hiding arms and supplies on the countryside, so that a guerilla movement could fight against the inevitable Soviet occupation.

In December '44/January '45, Törni’s old friend Solmu Korpela contacted him and pleaded him to switch over to the German side. The Germans would train and equip him as part of the resistance movement. Unfortunately, Finland was that point at war with Germany and actively fighting Germans in Lappland, meaning that Törni committed treason when he accepted. He, however, rationalized the move as necessary because Finland only fought Germany because the Soviet Union insisted this as part of the truce.

By late January, Törni found himself at Heringsdorf, Germany. The training was hard and included guerilla fighting, demolitions, staff officer work and leadership. He, along with other Finns, was sent to Neu-Stretzel, to participate in the SS-Jagd Verband course that lasted another week. They were told that they would soon return to their future areas of operation in Sweden and Finland.

However, the situation worsened for the Germans and the training centre had to be evacuated close to the Danish border. The train journey took five days. Fortunately for the Finns and unfortunately for the Germans, they were situated in the same carriage with all the alcohol that the headquarters unit was bringing along. All the Finns were utterly drunk for the whole five days.

From Flensburg the group was ordered to travel to Norway. However, at this point the British troops had occupied parts of north-west Germany and Denmark and the group was arrested. They managed to convince the Brits that they were merely factory workers and were trying to return home, so the British turned them over to the Danish authorities. With the help of the Finnish consulate in Copenhagen, the men got into Sweden and then to Oslo, Norway. Törni had been promoted to Hauptsturmführer by now. In Norway, Törni got separated from the group and ended up at another British POW camp, from which he escaped and travelled to Finland.

However, there are multiple alternative accounts of what Törni did during those last chaotic months of WW2. One claims he was fighting with German Marine-Infanterie-Batallion in northern Norway. Another claims he fought the Americans and British in southern Norway. Third claims he returned to German and fought the Red Army there. There is no absolute evidence, aside from the facts that he was in Germany, Denmark, Norway and eventually back in Finland.

He was arrested for treason in Finland by the now-communist led State Police. He was sentenced for six years. He escaped in 1947 but was caught soon after, trying to cross the border into Sweden. He was later amnestied by president Paasikivi in 1948. After release, he moved over to Sweden, afraid that either the communist State Police or the Russians were going to assassinate him. In January 1950 he engaged Marja Kops but, soon after their wedding, became convinced that the Reds were again after him. He took a job on a cargo ship to Venezuela. He met colonel Aarnio at Caracas, who told him of the possibilities in USA and especially the need for experienced anti-communist officers in the military. Törni decided to get to USA. He was hired as a sailor on a Norwegian freighter and when the ship was sailing past Mobile, Alabama, Törni jumped overboard and swam ashore. Without any money or speaking any English, he made it to New York, where other Finnish emigrants helped him. He worked as a cleaner and a carpenter, which allowed him to survive until get temporary alien residence, which enabled him to join the US Army, which he did in January 1954.

He was a 35-year old, “green”, recruit. He finished Basic at Fort Dixie, special training at Fort Carson and parachute training at Fort Benning. He was then assigned to special forces at Fort Bragg. Törni was promoted to Corporal in april 1955 and in June, he became US citizen and changed his name to Larry Thorne. 

In 1956, his old friend Major Aarnio had finally convinced the army that Thorne was being wasted as a just another grunt and he was promoted to Lieutenant and became an officer in the 11th Airborne in Germany, though quickly moved over to the 10th Special Forces Group. He became the leader for one of the A-platoons. 

In 1962, Thorne became famous in the SF community, as his team managed to recover the sensitive recon equipment from a crashed American spy plane, at the mountains of Iran, over 4300 meters above sea level, after an Iranian and German teams had failed. So it wasn’t a big surprise when he was commanded to Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Thorne served at Chau Lang, Tinh Bien, Phuoc Vinh, Phu Quoc and Nha Trang. He trained the Montagnard tribes to serve as anti-VC/NVA irregulars, in which he was very successful. During operation Shining Brass, his CH-34 Kingbee helicopter vanished on 18th October 1965.

In 1998 and 1999, American search parties in Vietnam finally located the helicopter and DNA testing confirmed that one of the bodies was Thorne. His helicopter had struck a mountain in extremely bad weather. In 2003, with full military honours, Thorne was buried at Arlington. In 2004, the Finnish Memorial Guild traveled to Vietnam and placed a steel memorial plate on the mountain side next to the crash site.

Törni / Thorne was remember as a quiet, unassuming and liked, though he often became violent when drunk. His subordinates remember him as an superior who did not demand anything that he wasn’t willing to personally perform, that never cared about military discipline or regulations. His superior officers - both in Finland and USA - evaluated him as very intelligent and a natural-born leader.

He was used as reference and as the example for a few movies and books. 

A list of all his military achievements/Details of his service

  • The Finnish Army
  • 3 September 1938, military (reserve)
  • 1 March 1939, Reserve Corporal
  • 9 May 1940, reserve second lieutenant
  • 5 March 1942, reserve lieutenant
  • 27 August 1944, reserve captain
  • 6 October 1950, removed from officers list
  • Finnish decorations:
  • 2 class medal of freedom 26 July 1940
  • 1 class medal of freedom 24 August 1940
  • 3rd class Cross of Liberty 9 October 1941
  • 4th class Cross of Liberty 23 May 1942
  • Mannerheim Cross 9 July 1944
  • 1st Div. memorial cross
  • Defence Forces bronze medal
  • German army, the Waffen-SS
  • 18 May 1941, Untersturmführer ( Nordost )
  • 15 April 1945, Hauptsturmführer ( Sonderkommando Nord )
  • German decorations:
  • 2 class Iron Cross 11 December 1943
  • United States Army
  • 28 January 1954, enlisted
  • 20 December 1954, Private First Class
  • 28 April 1955, Corporal
  • 17 November 1955, Sergeant
  • 9 January 1957, Lieutenant (res.)
  • 30 November 1960, Captain (res.)
  • 16 December 1965, Major (res., posthumously)
  • United States Army decorations:
  • Bronze Star
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Purple Heart (twice)
  • The Legion of Merit
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal
  • Air Medal
  • Combat Infantry Badge
  • Parachute Badge (Master)
  • Distinguished Flying Cross

That’d be all. Sorry for the wall of text. I’m going to try to post at least one of these stories a week. 

Frank Sinatra is photographed by friend Jimmy Van Heusen in Tossa de Mar, Spain during the filming of Ava Gardner’s film Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, May 1950. Sinatra cancelled an engagement to perform at Chicago’s Chez Paree to make the trip. He and Gardner’s relationship had turned even more tumultuous at this time, with rumors of an affair between Ava and costar Mario Cabre. Sinatra said of the period:

“I first met Ava in the early 1940s and when I saw her a few years later I thought, this was not the young little girl from Carolina at the studio, this was a woman who was glorious. At the start of the relationship we were really deeply in love; almost too much in love. Ava was working at Metro doing a picture here, a picture there, and then came a job to do a picture in Spain. Things all of a sudden didn’t fall into place. This was a turmoil that the whole world knew about, and I was chasing her around the world and I was borrowing money to go visit with her. I was broke…all the guys who made hundreds of thousands of dollars with me never called and said ‘What can we do for you, do you need any money?’ At that point I had nobody, the only guy I could talk to was Jimmy Van Heusen and he’d give me a few dollars for my pocket.”