German sign 'Entrance to the Old Bone - Flank Platoon' made from a bovine scapula: Private G H Bungard, 14 Light Trench Mortar Battery, AIF

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Bray Proyart Area, Proyart
Accession Number RELAWM00922
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Bone, Paint
Maker German Army
Place made France
Date made c 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Scapula or shoulder bone with a hole, (possibly used for mounting), drilled through the centre. It is labelled in black paint: 'Eintritt for alte Knochen Fl. Zug. 1918'. The upper and lower borders are decorted in green paint with a vine leaf design. The bone has been identified as a cow or bullock scapula.

History / Summary

Makeshift German sign collected from abandoned German positions in the Proyart/Morcourt area by Private George Harold Bungard, 14 Light Trench Mortar Battery (14 LTMB) on 18 August 1918.

1576 Private George Harold Bungard was born at Jesmond, near Newcastle, and enlisted on 1 May 1916 at Dubbo Sportsground, aged 24 years. He received initial training at Liverpool and embarked for overseas service aboard the transport Benalla from Sydney on 9 November 1916. He undertook further training in England at Perham Downs and Hurdcott before being sent to France on 25 April 1917 and assigned to the 53rd Battalion.

He was detached to 14 Light Trench Mortar Battery (14 LTMB) on 20 June and permanently attached to this unit a month later. Bungard was shot in the right thigh on 27 September during the latter stages of 14 Brigade's attack on Polygon Wood (probably in the region of the Hooge Crater) and evacuated to England where he was treated at Reading War Hospital and did not return to 14 LTMB until March 1918.

As part of 14 Brigade, his unit was actively involved in the August offensives. They were based in the Proyart area around 18 August, when Private Bungard came across this decorated sign made from a bullock or cow scapula. Bungard noted to the Australian War Records Section (AWRS) when he handed it to them on 28 August 'While having a look round I found this piece of German handiwork in one of the old German front lines.'. The sign displays a certain grim humour with the text translating as 'Entrance to the Old Bone - Flank Platoon'.

Within five days of delivering this item to the AWRS, Private Bungard was in action again in the attack on Mont St Quentin, which commenced on 28 August. Sub-sections of 14 LTMB were attached to 53, 54, 55 and 56 Battalions to directly support the attack. In the latter stages of the operation on 2 September, Bungard was wounded in the right knee and was again evacuated to England for treatment. He took no further part in the war and returned to Australia aboard the Orsova on 8 January 1919 and was discharged on 2 April.