Precious history recovered


POSTED: Friday, June 6, 2014 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Friday, June 6, 2014 - 6:09am

Brothers reunited with their mother's wedding dress, crafted from parachute silk in Italy during World War II. Matt Talhelm reports.

(WVIR) Two brothers from central Virginia are helping solve the mystery of a World War II wedding dress discovered in the collection at the University of Virginia's Health Sciences Library.

First Lieutenant Hilda Franklin and Captain Richard Bell married in Italy just weeks after WWII ended. They were serving in the 8th Evacuation Hospital run by UVA. An anonymous donor sent the dress and their sons, Dick and Fraizer Bell, saw it for the first time Tuesday.

"I'm sure mom had it in a box in the back of a closet somewhere," Dick Bell said.

In the decades after they exchanged vows, no one's quite sure how the dress ended up in Charlottesville. The dress' pieces are made of World War II hand-sewn parachute silk.

Hilda Franklin was a nurse and Richard Bell was a doctor at UVA's 8th Evacuation Hospital. They married at the tent hospital in Italy days after World War II ended.

An anonymous donor left the dress to the library, and the date of the donation is also unknown.

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