Click to enlarge

World War I trench periscope. Periscopes like these were produced in World War I so soldiers could view out of trenches without having to put their heads over the parapets and risk being shot. Around the War in a Handful of Objects notes: The need to look over the parapet of the trenches and observe the activity in no-man’s-land led to the production of the British No 9 box periscope. Its stated intention was “to give the soldier a view of his front whilst his head and person are sheltered”. They were made cheaply out of boxwood and came with carrying bag and spare mirrors – which were essential, as all too often the periscope would be spotted by the enemy and “sniped” in a shower of glass splinters.

Made of coarse packing case quality wood. Hinged in the centre so it folds in half. The wood is painted dark green and has a paper label on it: 'Periscope No. 9, Mark II (22 1/2 inches between mirrors) TRENCHSCOPE 1917. When observing with binocular rest it on the glass screen. When observing without binocular lower the shutter until the eyes are protected by it and the glass screen'. Also a prisoners style arrowhead marked above. Green painted steel band around the centre. Wooden flap over one mirror.