Somme trench art
Lasting 141 days, the Battle of the Somme finally came to an end on 18th November 1916, with more than one million men having been wounded or killed in the preceding months.
This match box was made by an unknown soldier, probably to help pass the time during the long periods of inactivity experienced on the front line. ‘Trench Art’ is the term applied to decorative (yet often practical) items made by soldiers, prisoners of war or civilians during or after experiencing armed conflict or its consequences. Objects such as these act as physical testament to personal campaign experiences, but also tell us about the maker’s surroundings and the materials available to them, such as shell and bullet casings.
These types of objects date back to well before the First World War. Chesterfield Museum has beautifully worked straw marquetry boxes in its collections, made by prisoners of war held in Chesterfield during the Napoleonic Wars.