Author Topic: World War I Trench Art  (Read 2806 times)

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Offline bruce61813

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World War I Trench Art
« on: May 17, 2007, 03:55:02 AM »
It took a little to figure out what this started out as. It was originally a 1/12 shilling bronze coin from the Baliwick of Jersey. This type was modified into the piece of trench art. The scalloping was cut in, the obverse has the dent in each point. The reverse has been smoothed, and engraved with "BETHUNE  1914  APERS(?)" . I don't have it in hand yet.

Bruce
« Last Edit: May 17, 2007, 03:56:54 AM by bruce61813 »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2007, 06:14:16 PM »
My impression is that the second word is Arras, a town in the North of France. Arras was at times less than 10 kilometers from the front and often bombarded. The reference may be to the battle of Arras in April 1917, which includes the much better known battle of Vimy ridge. On the allied side, the attack was largely a British plan, executed by British troops. Initially, the attack was successfull, mainly due to ineptitude of the local German commander, but eventually, the battle ended as another one of those grandiose attacks where the infantry was in the end unable to get anywhere and suffered horrible losses.

However, there is a second possibility. There is an episode known as the first battle of Arras, which was basically a failed French attempt to stop the Germans from reaching the North Sea in October 1914. The Germans, under crown prince Ruprecht of Bavaria, were able to repulse the French, but lost Arras.

In neither time frame have I found a role for Béthune, a French town near Arras.

The arguments in favor if 1914 are the date on the medal and the somewhat larger likelyhood of a role for Béthune in 1914. The arguments in favor of 1917 are that the medal is British in nature and that soldiers had more (miserable) time to make a piece like this in the trenches, while in 1914 the war of the trenches had not yet started.

Peter
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 09:16:06 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline bruce61813

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2007, 06:44:39 PM »
Peter, thank you for the information. The coin tha tthis was made from was only produced from 1911 to 1913, so it would have been in circulation for 1914. to bad the date of the coin was wiped out.

But the information you provied, makes more likely the 1914 time. the one possibility that we haven't considered, it that it was made after 1914, but the maker was there, and did not have a chance to work until after the original date. So it was commemorating the 1914 event, but not made until a bit later.

Bruce

Offline Figleaf

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2007, 07:04:54 PM »
Yes, Bruce. I would agree that a date of production beyond 1914 is likely, but don't forget that the 1914 battle was a French-German affair. To say that the medal refers to the first battle is to imply that a French soldier made it, while the medal is British in character. Detail: in French, you do not use diacritical marks on capital letters. A Frenchman would be more inclined to write BETHUNE than BÉTHUNE (but he would write Béthune). It doesn't amount to proof, but I think it's more likely that the medal was made by a Briton for the 1917 battle, which of course begs the question why he'd have put 1914 on the piece. My answer is I don't know. However, you can't compare the reliability of a date on a private medal with the date on a coin.

One avenue I haven't explored is the role of Channel Island volunteers in the French army.

Peter
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 09:13:13 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline bruce61813

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2007, 07:29:27 PM »
Peter, the thought of Channel Island volunteers occured to me as I was reading your note.
Your comment about the diacritical mark would also make sense. so while the coin is English,
 it may have have arrived with a French Foreign Legion volunteer.

Bruce

Offline bruce61813

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2007, 01:33:30 AM »
Update, I just received the medallion/coin. It is far better than i will scan. It is very low profile, and evenly toned. I have made a close scan of the word "ARRAS" to show how it was engraved. I have done further research. There were 2000 French army reserves that reported back to France at the first call to mobilization. The only British troops, of the BEF were father north in Belgium near Liege and Mons. So it was probably created and carried by a French soldier, as a reminder of the battle. Probably made in late 1914 after the trench lines formed. http://www.jerseyheritagetrust.org/edu/resources/pdf/ww1.pdf this is worth the 21 pages of reading.

Bruce
« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 08:45:27 AM by Niels »

Offline bagerap

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2020, 05:49:16 PM »
This just arrived in a bulk lot

Offline bruce61813

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2020, 06:29:51 PM »
Nice,WW II version, I suspect there is more types out there. WW I was very common due to the trench warfare.

Offline brandm24

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2020, 08:32:03 PM »
This just arrived in a bulk lot
Apparently, the image is of a British soldier, but do you know what the mark on the neck and to the right side is? These pieces are interesting but sometimes difficult to interpret.

Bruce
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Offline malj1

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2020, 11:53:49 PM »
The mark on the neck looks to be AA or AV probably the the soldiers initials, perhaps Alf or Bert (Albert) Atkins   (from Tommy Atkins as they were British soldiers were known) :) ...the other mark is unclear to me.
Malcolm
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Offline bruce61813

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2020, 02:22:11 AM »
The mark on the neck looks like a star, possibly a brigade, or unit emblem.

Offline brandm24

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Re: World War I Trench Art
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2020, 11:43:23 AM »
The mark on the neck looks like a star, possibly a brigade, or unit emblem.
I thought that might be it too.

Bruce
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