Violin made from war relics in France : Private M Nicholls, 30 Battalion AIF
|Title||Violin made from war relics in France : Private M Nicholls, 30 Battalion AIF|
|Place made||Western Front: Western Front (France)|
|Date made||c 1916 - 1918|
Violin made from war relics collected in France during the First World War by 2407 Private Max Nicholls, 30 Battalion AIF. The body of the violin is made from a box of glued and nailed construction with the waist or centre bout realised from two curved pieces of wood inset into the sides. A pair of F-holes has been cut into the upper face. The neck is made from four lengths of wood, made up of the fingerboard, two neck pieces and a supporting saddle, glued and screwed to the body with gaps filled with resin or gum. The four carved tuning pegs attach four strings, two of which are wire violin strings, one an early gut version, and the fourth a wound guitar string. Two halves of a bisected German 8 mm bullet have been let into the outer face of the peg box, with a 'Deutsches Reich 1915' one pfennig coin set into the upper scroll portion. The peg box has been reinforced and sealed at the rear with a nailed length of wood. The tailpiece has been shaped from a human patella (knee cap) and drilled to accept each of the four strings. Two lower holes have been added to allow the tailpiece to be attached to a brass end button using loops of string. The endboard has split longitudinally at this attachment from the tension of the strings.
Nearly all surfaces of the instrument have been carved and decorated. The tuning pegs are decorated with German state mottoes, each word made from a series of impressions stamped into the wood and then inked. They read 'Saxony Providentae Memor', 'Bavaria Im treue Fest', 'Wurtemburg Furchtlos und Treue', 'Prussia Gott mit uns' and 'Baden Furst im Vaterland'. The fourth peg contains two mottoes - Baden and Wurtemburg. Two German sayings are also impressed into the upper faces of the peg box. They read 'Not kennt kein Gesetz' and 'Eile mit weile'.
Violin made by 2407 Private Maximillian Nicholls, 30 Battalion AIF. Nicholls, born Ballarat, a school teacher of Hobart, Tasmania, enlisted on 8 September 1915, stating his age as 34. He embarked for overseas service aboard HMAT Orsova as part of the fourth reinforcements for 30 Battalion, sailing from Sydney on 11 March 1916 and arriving in Egypt in late April. His battalion sailed for France from Alexandria aboard HMAT Ivernia on 21 June 1916 and arrived at Marseilles eight days later. His battalion's first major battle was at Fromelles on 19 July 1916. It was tasked with providing carrying parties for supplies and ammunition but was soon drawn into the vicious fighting. The battalion was then rotated in and out of the front line along with others in the brigade, but played no major offensive role for the rest of the year. Private Nicholls was evacuated sick with influenza and hydrocele, a hernia-related problem, on 31 August but returned to duty the next day. He was detached for duty to 5 Division Headquarters on 17 January 1917 until 2 April when he was evacuated to 3 General Hospital with shell shock, returning to duty at the end of the month. His battalion missed much of the heavy fighting of 1917, being employed in flank protection and reserve roles at the second battle of Bullecourt and the battle of Polygon Wood.