Vivid Publishing - Book Publishers Australia

Trench Art

Judy Waugh

The stories behind the talismans

This is a beautiful book with fine photography. It includes a Foreword by the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson.

The pieces of trench art were made amid conflict and turmoil, but all are beautiful - intuitive works of art about music, faith, love and honour.

57 pieces are from WWI.

All are signed with name and service number. Most are small and tactile, often worn as a fob.

Many are made from coins and brass from the battlefield; some are carved in bone and wood.

Most belonged to young soldiers who were killed in action or died of their wounds - at Gallipoli, France and Flanders, Palestine and Mesopotamia.

Twelve belonged to Anzacs.

W.Wilkinson Trench Art

This book tells their stories - of men from England, Scotland, Wales, Australia and New Zealand, bound by adventure and loyalty to their common ancestry.

The engraved ID holds the key to the story. The heart of each story is different.

There are stories of courage under fire and desertions at Colombo; of death from sunstroke and survival through three theatres of war; of medals awarded and fines for misadventures; of men from the Outback in Queensland and young lads from Boys Homes in Kent.

There are insights into social history - the ostracism and disgrace of venereal disease, the generational poverty in industrial cities, the imperative to secure oil lines in Iraq.

And there are heartbroken letters from those left behind.



Trench Art official website:

Listen to Judy's interview with ABC's Richard Fidler here

About the Author

Judy Waugh

I happen to be good at old fashioned IQ tests. These skills have shaped the course of my life.

They led me to Canberra in 1965 as one of 50 new graduates recruited as PITs - Programmers-in-Training. Not only did this lead to an interesting job as the first female programmer at the Treasury - it also led to a superbright husband and a great party crowd.

A lifetime later, those skills have led to a collection of trench art and a passion for solving the puzzles - how much can I find from the simple inscriptions?

Like this on the banjo:

1st 28th

I love the challenge of solving the puzzle. But it is more than that.

I am moved by holding the pieces, which are smooth and tactile. I think of the young soldiers who held them so long ago. Most were killed in action or died of their wounds. As my fingers explore the smoothness and recognise the symbols, I feel the need to tell their stories. I will never know what they felt as they faced their death, but I can at least say who they were.

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The challenge of solving the puzzle is therapeutic. When I feel troubled by the sad things in my life, I switch to the problem-solving part of my brain and fill it with dates and names and places from 100 years ago, and  find peace in the puzzles.

Those casual skills from my childhood are still shaping the emotional course of my life.



Trench Art: The stories behind the talismans by Judy Waugh

'Congratulations - a great work'  
Dr Brendan Nelson, Director, Australian War Memorial

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ISBN: 978-1-925341-33-1
Format: FlexiCase 280mm x 215mm full colour
Extent: 368 pages
RRP: $59.95
Publisher: Vivid Publishing
Category: World War--Collectibles