The creation of trench art that can be broadly defined
as the making of items of decorative value from the
waste material of armed conflict such as spent shell
or bullet cases was much practiced during the Great
War. It was undertaken by soldiers while they were in
the trench lines or in the rest areas, by Prisoners
of War (PoW), and by the civilian population. For some,
their output would be the means of supplementing the
few shillings or sous that were their weekly wage. It
should be mentioned that trench art was not unique to
the Great War, and that it has similarities in the scrimshaw
produced by men on whalers in the 18th and 19th centuries
as well as items made by French PoW from the Napoleonic
Wars. Effectively, it was made anywhere where serving
men had time on their hands.
The vase shown in the accompanying photographs has
a somewhat different intent to that of being simply
decorative or having been made to occupy spare time.
Made out of a 5.9 inch shell case, on one side the inscription
has been punched or engraved in:
"In Loving Memory of our Brother Pte W Honeycombe
1/15 Hants Died Somewhere in France."
While on the other side, in what appears to be the
badge of the Royal Militia Island of Jersey, without
the three leopards, is also punched or engraved:
"Killed in Action, Sept 4th 1918."
It was clearly meant to reflect the family's grief
at William's loss in France or (more likely) Flanders
not least that of his brothers Walter Davey who was
serving with the King's Own Lancaster Regiment and Albert
Henry, a Sapper in the Royal Engineers and who probably
had the technical resources to make this vase.
From what can be discerned from his regimental number
43956 and his age, it would appear that William was
among a batch of 35 Jerseymen who were conscripted in
either late 1917 or early 1918 and who would serve with
the Hampshire Regiment. William's father Samuel worked
for Jersey's Evening Post selling newspapers and was
also the Town Crier in St Helier.
The CIGWSG would very much like to thank the vase's
current owner, Mr David Gainsborough Roberts, for his
permission to include the photographs on its website.