In each war background, beside the standard and well known equipment, there are unique objects coming from each soldier’s needs, from his intimacy and, why not, boredom. These objects forms into the ‘’Trench Art’’ category, which presume ‘’any decorative item made by soldiers, prisoners of war or civilians where the manufacture is directly linked to armed conflict or its consequences. It offers an insight not only to their feelings and emotions about the war, but also their surroundings and the materials they had available to them.’’ (quote from the New Zeland Army Museum). We must add that these improvised items, doesn’t have just a decorative role, but they are more likely functional items decorated in a second phase, or totally improvised items made with the intention to function, and becoming decorative by their unique form and construction.
In the last two years, we have managed to collect various objects, including some Italian mess tins coming from the ‘’Fronte Russo’’ battlefields, more exactly from the Arbuzovka area: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arbuzovka . Judging the writings, we concluded that the tins were used by the assault unit CC.NN Camice Nere (Black Shirts) 30 BTG ‘’Montebello’’(the mess tin has the writing ”Molti Nemici, Molto Onore” – ”Many enemies, a lot of Honor”), another one by a soldier from the 3 Reg Bersaglieri, another by the ”Alpini” units, and another one, also Italian, probably captured by a Russian soldier and reused (it has Russian writings). Another of our mess tins, the one with the drawing of a soldier reading a letter, comes from the P.O.W. camp III-C stalag in Alt Drewitz https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalag_III-C
We have put together also a small grouping of items obtained from empty cartridges cases (ring, brush, bottle opener, lighter and whistle), and collected many items reporting the owners names or other infos. For example, we have found near Bucharest a lighter with the writings ”1943 Sevastopol Crimea”, so we concluded that very probably it was lost by a Russian soldier during his 1945 occupation campaing in Romania, soldier who fought also at Sevastopol. All the names and writings and details, helps to draw some aspect of the owner’s personal history, but also of a larger History, tracing the items route through sevelar countries and situations. The trench-art items in our collection, are both recovered by us in Romania or collected from other diggers and other countries; anyway, all of them are from Europe and the Eastern Front