Tin box with two oil paintings on the interior surfaces

Tin box, 1915
Jack Sommers (1878–1934)
R 746

An artist during his civilian life, Jack Sommers (1878–1934) served with the 1st Division, Australian Army Service Corps, where he was a driver. He saw action at Gallipoli, Egypt and France.

Leaving Gallipoli, he was transferred into the Western Frontier Force, which was deployed in the Western Desert of Egypt. Sommers spent Christmas 1915 in heavy rain in the advanced trenches at Bir Shola. He painted battle scenes on the only surface he had at hand: his cigarette case. The companion painting is of sangars (fortified positions built from rock that served as observation posts and sniper positions) in the area.

Sommers wrote that ‘the fight at Bir Shola came and went in a welter of showers, mud and mirage … a fight in a dream’.

Transported home in 1918 suffering from trench fever, he donated his collection of letters and artworks to the Library in 1933.