Trench art paperknife marked 'Bapaume' : Sergeant T A H Breaden, 17 Battalion, AIF

Accession Number REL38290
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Trench Art
Physical description Brass, Cupronickel, Solder
Maker Unknown
Place made France
Date made c 1917-18
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Curve bladed paperknife with a handle made from a .303 cartridge case and the quillon from a pair of .303 rounds. The round at the end of the handle has been bisected to allow the blade to be affixed with solder. One side of the brass blade has been deeply engraved with a decorative border, with the word 'BAPAUME' engraved in a lighter manner in the centre of the blade.

History / Summary

Related to the service of 2471 Sergeant Thomas Arthur Henry Breaden, 17 Battalion AIF. Breaden, born at Balmain and a clerk of Dulwich Hill, Sydney was 29 years old when he enlisted on 22 July 1915. After training, he embarked for overseas service from Sydney aboard HMT Themistocles on 5 October 1915. It is possible he saw service at Gallipoli. On the day he embarked from Alexandria for departure to France, in March 1916, Breaden was promoted to Lance Corporal; he joined his battalion in the line as part of A Company. He was promoted to corporal on 1 June 1916, before the battalion took part in its first major engagement at Pozieres in late July to early August, and to sergeant on 9 October. Shortly afterwards he suffered an unspecified illness necessitating a fortnight¿s stay in hospital. It appears that around this time, Breaden was made Orderly Room Sergeant for the battalion. From 14 June 1917 until the end of July, 17 Battalion was quartered at Bapaume, engaged in training and reconsolidation. It is likely Breaden acquired this paperknife during this period. After returning to the line, he was gassed on 3 October 1918 during the battalion's last action of the war, on the Beaurevoir Line. After medical treatment Breaden rejoined his battalion in France (and, for Christmas, Belgium) where he remained until the early months of 1919. On 18 January 1919 he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his 'exceptionally high quality' staff work - his citation concludes 'it has been largely due to this NCO's capability, devotion to his work and consistent energy that it has been possible to render correct states and returns of a statistical nature to the higher formations'. Breaden returned to Australia aboard the troopship Nestor and was discharged on 3 September 1919. He was involved in the production of the 17 Battalion history (authored by Lieutenant-Colonel K W MacKenzie and published in 1946). The difference in engraving method between the border design on the knife and the engraving of the name 'Bapaume' suggests the knife was one of many items produced in a generic manner and personalised when required.