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A collection displayed at Windsor Castle following the First World War

Trench and Prisoner-of-War Art

Trench art is made from the everyday objects of warfare. In many cases these objects were made by soldiers passing the time in trenches or recuperating in infirmaries. Trench art was also made by civilians, small businesses were created to meet the demand of returning soldiers who wanted to transform their war relics into mementos suitable for the mantelpiece. Common materials used to make trench art included shrapnel fragments, artillery shells, bullets and pieces of masonry.

There was also an organised craft industry in internment and prisoner-of-war camps. Many prisoners made decorative boxes which were then sold for small profit. The quality and style of trinket box varied upon the skills of the men and the materials available.

Explore the objects below:

France

Clock

1st Royal Naval Brigade

Pair of trinket boxes

1st Royal Naval Brigade

Trinket box

Charles Alexander Southin (1894-1918)

Trinket box

Franz Sadenski (active 1916)

Trinket box

Germany

Casket

Piper Corporal James Butti

Trench art