Violin made from war relics

Private Max Nicholls

In 1918, Private Max Nicholls returned to Australia with this unique handmade violin. He had made it over the course of his service in France, using materials he had scavenged. The body of the violin is made from a German field telephone, the neck a German rifle. The bow was made from a German sign, with the hair coming from the tail of an army mule found at Bernafay Wood. It was made and decorated largely using a pocket knife.

Working as a school teacher before enlisting, Nicholls had to put his age back a few years to be accepted. He served in the 30th Battalion, but repeated complications from shell shock led to him being evacuated back to Australia in May 1918. He moved to Lord Howe Island, where he continued to teach. In 1948, he played his violin at a patriotic concert. Soon after the concert he donated the violin to the Australian War Memorial.