Major Alexis Casdagli created this stitched tapestry in captivity in Germany
They were the secret messages of resistance that Hitler’s henchmen failed to spot.Held in a Nazi camp, Major Alexis Casdagli whiled away the long hours sewing samplers in cross-stitch
His captors were so impressed by his pretty needlework they even put it on display in the camp. Yet not one of them spotted the coded messages he had stitched into his designs – which read ‘God Save the King’ and ‘F*** Hitler’.
The subversive samplers have since been displayed at the Victoria & Albert museum in London as a testament to a British soldier who never lost his fighting spirit.
Major Alexis Casdagli pictured during the war. The artwork was created using red and blue thread from a disintegrating pullover belonging to an elderly Cretan general
‘It used to give him pleasure when the Germans were doing their rounds,’ his 79-year-old son, Tony Casdagli, said.
‘It also stopped him going mad. He would say after the war the Red Cross saved his life, but his embroidery saved his sanity.’
Major Casdagli, of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, began sewing six months into his time at a camp in Dossel-Warbung, Germany.
He made his seemingly innocent sampler using red and blue thread from the jumper of a fellow inmate, a Cretan army general.
Around the swastikas and a banal inscription, he also stitched a border of irregular dots and dashes – containing the messages in Morse code.
His work was displayed for years at the camps in Germany where he was held.
If discovered, the messages of resistance could have put his life in jeopardy, his son said.
‘He was so good at sewing the Germans had him giving classes to his fellow officers,’ he added.
‘But they never worked out his code.’
His son, a retired Royal Navy officer who lives in London with his wife Sally, told how another of Major Casdagli’s rebellious works featured a Union Flag.
On it he stitched a flap with ‘do not open’ written on it, as showing the flag was banned in Nazi Germany.
Major Casdagli created the sampler while in captivity at a prisoner of war camp in Dossel-Warbung, pictured, in Germany. He was in captivity at various camps for four years
‘Each week the same officer would open the flap and say, “This is illegal,” and Pa said, “You’re showing it, I’m not”.’
Major Casdagli was held captive between 1941 and 1945, in four camps.
He continued to sew until his death in 1990, at the age of 90.
Tony Casdagli, Major Casdagli\'s son now has the sampler after it was displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London recently
Morse Code: A History
Morse code is a way of communicating text in a series of on-off tones, lights or clicks.
Anyone trained to understand it can pick it up without needing special equipment.
The short and long signals are called \'dots\' and \'dashes\' and each letter or number is represented by a unique sequence of dots and dashes
A dash is three times the duration of a dot.
Letters of a word are separated by one dash length and two words are separated by seven dots.
Samuel F B Morse invented the first American telegraph around 1835 which sends electrical signals over long distance through wires.
It revolutionised long-distance communication.
He devised an early form of Morse code with Alfred Vail in the 1840s to communicate information,
Morse sent the first telegraphic message from Washington DC to Baltimore on May 24, 1844. The message was \'What hath God wrought?\'