Globe-form trophy commemorating an American Air Force squadron in Sicily in 1944, during World War II. It features a nickel finish model of a Lockheed P-38L Lightning airplane mounted atop a 5-inch brass terrestrial globe on a white marble block. The continents of the world as well as lines of longitude and latitude are engraved into the globe together with inscriptions bearing the name of the 885th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 15th Air Force and “Sicily 1944.” Such trophies were often handmade by servicemen as personal souvenirs from scrap metal and surplus parts and are known as "trench art."
The speedy and agile Lockheed P-38L Lightning was introduced as a war plane in 1944 and used on many flight and bombing missions in Europe and Asia. The 885th Bombardment Squadron, formerly the 122nd, was assigned to the 15th Air Force in June 1944. Based in Algeria, they delivered supplies and agents to the French Resistance in the south of France. In September 1944, the unit relocated to Brindisi on the island of Sicily in Italy, where they continued operations in support of Italian partisans.
The term “trench art” encompasses a wide range of military crafts produced during wartime by deployed soldiers, though the term also includes items relating to military efforts made by others during or after the war. Military personnel adopted trench art crafts to pass the time while deployed or as a hobby/business after retirement. The items were often made as commemorative souvenirs or trophies for personnel use, trade, or sale. Trench art items made in the battlefield, or by prisoners of war, are generally more simple and primitive, sometimes considered folk art, reflecting limited access to tools and materials.
Originally “trench art” referred to art made in the notorious trenches of World War I and most often still is used in reference to decorative arts with primary components made from parts of military ammunitions and weapons, such as brass or copper artillery or mortar shells or casings (with additional fabricated parts of metal to complete them). Trench art decorative arts can also be made from, or supplemented with, other materials, such as natural animal shells or other found objects available in the field to military personnel.
Trench art decorative arts are often decorated with information or insignias for the military division that the solider belonged to. Sometimes they incorporate details of specific important battles in text, as well as illustrations such as applicable maps, aircraft, battleships, etc. These decorations are often engraved on metal shell casings, or sometimes painted. Popular decorative art forms from World War I and World War II include aircraft and tanks. Fabricated utilitarian objects include mugs, lamps, and picture frames. Painted souvenirs include helmets and sea shells.
Globe inscribed: “1944/ 885th BOMB SQDN/ 15 AIR FORCE/ NORTH AFRICA/ ITALY/ SICILY.”
Airplane wings inscribed: “Sicily 1944.”
Condition: Generally good with the usual overall wear and oxidation. Globe with various small dents and dings.
Kimball, Jane A. "Trench Art of the Great War and Related Souvenirs." 1989, 2005. Online at: Trench Art: An Illustrated History. http://www.trenchart.org/ (14 December 2011).
Mattison, John K. and Turner, Hugh. “885th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) (Special), 859th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy).” Hugh Turner. 5 December 2002. http://users.rcn.com/hugh.turner/2641st/2641st.htm (1 March 2005).