World War I Soldier Carved Battle Diary into His Violin

A century after the beginning of World War I, a soldier's violin tells tales of the trenches.(Photo: runlama (Creative Commons/Flickr))
A century after the beginning of World War I, a soldier's violin tells tales of the trenches.(Photo: runlama (Creative Commons/Flickr))

Most soldiers tell stories of their time in the trenches. But one British World War I soldier let his violin do the talking.

Sapper Ernest Johnson carved into the wood of his violin some details about where he had served, according to reports in Britain’s Daily Mail and elsewhere. Johnson is said to have played the violin in the trenches to entertain his fellow soldiers.

The notes Johnson carved into his instrument tell of his leaving England in 1915 for the European continent, his travels around Europe, meeting King George V on the front lines in Belgium and “finishing” with the British army in 1919.

Johnson’s granddaughter found the violin in a plastic bag in her cousin’s home while conducting family history research. The full story of Johnson and his violin has recently appeared along with other stories in World War I in 100 Family Treasures, a book by Antiques Roadshow expert Paul Atterbury.

Read more: 

  • Soldier Uses Violin as World War I Diary (ClassicFM)
  • Soldier Turned His Violin into Fascinating WWI Diary (MailOnline)
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