A top tenor heard a busker singing Puccini and it stopped him in his tracks
1 day ago
Sapper Ernest Johnson etched notes into the back of his violin during the Great War, turning the instrument into an invaluable diary of his journey through the trenches of Europe.
The violin, found concealed in a plastic bag in an attic, details the journeys made by Johnson as he travelled around Europe during the First World War, including the names of the towns he visited, and details about his leave. Quotes include: "Left France for Belgium", "Home for 10 days leave", "Left Belgium for Italy". Soldier Photo: BNPS
The man behind the etchings, Sapper Ernest Johnson, pictured here, died in 1948, with the story about his violin-playing becoming stuff of family legend. Photo: BNPS
The detailed diary covers three quarters of the back of the instrument, telling the story of Johnson's travels from August 8th 1915 until 18th February 1918 where he finishes the diary with the words: "Finished with army". Photo: BNPS
Johnson used the instrument to perform for his fellow front line soldiers while in the trenches. Photo: BNPS
Ernest Johnson, is pictured in the middle row, to the right of the man in the light jacket along with fellow soldiers. Photo: BNPS
Johnson's granddaughter has now restored the violin so she can learn the same songs performed by her grandfather in the trenches, including war-time favourites like Roses of Picardy and Keep the Home Fires Burning.
Ernest Johnson, pictured here in 1916 with his wife Jenny and their first two children Jim, four, and Hilda, two. Photo: BNPS