Monday, February 23, 2009

Anzac Jack and the Turkish shin bone

Once in a while, something historical will come along and make me say (usually to myself): "Huh?"

Like the reference in an email today from about a knife handle said (during WWI) to have been fashioned from the shin-bone of a Turkish soldier.

You'll see the knife here. The truth, however (and perhaps, thankfully) is not as grisly as the legend.
"New Zealand-born, 'Anzac Jack' served with the AIF at Gallipoli and later on the Western Front. He made the knife while recuperating from wounds received at Gallipoli and sent it home to his mother in New Zealand. Supposedly, the handle of the knife had been made from the shinbone of a dead Turkish soldier. It was enclosed in an ornate wooden case bearing the inscription 'Te Pohutukawa, Knife made by Sapper J.H. Moore. Handle from Shin Bone of Turk'. His mother used it to raise funds for war-ravaged Belgium.

In July 2007 the Army Museum Waiouru hired a forensic anthropologist to examine the knife's handle. They concluded that the bone was the wrong shape to be a human shinbone and that the light flecks of grain in the bone were more typical of horse and deer. It is most likely to have come from one of the many donkeys used to carry supplies at Gallipoli. It would have been easy for Sapper Moore to have come across mixed bones and picked up one believing it to be human."
More exhibits from Objects of War here.

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