Turkish Prisoner of War beadwork belt : Lance Corporal E Harris, 8 Light Horse Regiment AIF

Place Africa: Egypt
Accession Number REL/00726.003
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Cotton, Glass
Maker Unknown
Place made Egypt
Date made c 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Loomwork beaded belt primarily made up of gold coloured glass beads, with patterns in light and dark blue, red, white and green beads. In the centre of the belt the text 'NED HARRIS No. 965' is worked in dark blue beads. At one end of the belt is text in Arabic script worked in dark blue beads. The buckle is a late 19th century/early 20th century British military snake clasp buckle.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of 965 Lance Corporal Edward Harris. Harris enlisted on 11 February 1915. He embarked from Melbourne on board HMAT Uganda on 21 June 1915 with 8 Light Horse Regiment and served on Gallipoli from September to early December 1915, before being admitted to 1 Australian Light Horse Field Ambulance with trench feet. Ten days later he was transferred to the Hospital Ship Oxfordshire with frost bite. He served with Depot stores in Cairo and Ghezireh in 1916 and 1917. Harris returned to 8 Light Horse in August 1917, serving in Palestine until the end of the war apart from two periods in hospital in Egypt and Gaza, the latter for malaria contracted in the summer of 1918. He was appointed lance corporal on 9 May 1919. On 3 July he left for Australia on board HT Malta.This belt was specially made for Harris by an Ottoman prisoner of war (POW) in a British POW camp, probably in Egypt. Except for fatigue duties, prisoners were generally not required to work. Making craft items, along with playing sport, games or music helped them pass the time. The prisoners also made these items as a way of making some money to buy extra rations and supplies, such as coffee or tobacco; to barter with other prisoners; or as gifts for friends or family. The Ottoman Empire stretched from the Balkans to the Sinai, and the soldiers in its armies came from throughout the empire so the maker of this belt may not have been ethnically Turkish. The bulk of the Memorial’s beadwork collection comes from Egypt but there were also prison camps in England, Salonika, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, India and France where prisoners made similar souvenirs. This belt was made on a loom and Harris' name and service number have been worked into the pattern.