Country using Cyrillic writing using .55 Boys in 1949?


Today I saw an interesting piece of trench art for sale. It was an ash tray with a lighter made from a .55 boys round standing up in the centre. The tray was on three “legs” made from .45 ACP cases headstamped “REM-UMC 45 ACP”. On the bottom, someone had scratched some Cyrillic writing in by hand along with a date in 1949. I can’t remember exactly what either said. I should have taken a photo. There was a British badge and a badge with the Czechoslovakian 1920 coat of arms (see image) attached to the Boys round.

The origin of this piece of Trench art is strange, as it was made from British and American cartridges, had Cyrillic writing on it, had a coat of arms from a country that used the Western alphabet, and a date of 1949. I didn’t buy it as it was too expensive, or otherwide I would have.


Just curious, what is expensive for you?


First thought would be either Yugoslav or Russian “Lend-Lease”. A translation would give you your answer; is it Russian or Serb?


I’m not sure whether it was Russian or Serb. I can’t read Cyrillic so wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

As for price, it was £30. I don’t collect Trench art, and saw it in the first few rows of the junk sale. I wanted to save my cash in case I found any artillery cases. My car needs some work doing on it as well, so I was unwilling to spend money at the time on something I don’t collect. Thinking back, I should have just bought it. I have seen the seller there quite a few times before though, so may see it for sale again.


US Lendlease (including Canadian made Boys Rifles and Ammo) was Supplied to the Soviet Army 1942-44, Via either Murmansk Convoys, or (Mostly) by the Tehran Railroad (Bandar Abbas-Tehran-Tashkent—courtesy of USTC for the First (to Tehran) section, and the SZD Operating Division Tehran-Tashkent, using Alco Diesel Locos supplied by USTC ( re-gauged to Russian 5-foot gauge)–the Russians subequently “cloned” the Alco deisels (Model RSD) and made several hundred of them, and they lasted in SZD service till the early 1980s ( SZD ==Sovietsky Zhelenice Drahy --Soviet State Railways)

The Lend Lease included Fully equipped Bren Universal carriers, fitted with Boys guns, and US Tanks, with .30 BMGs and Thompsons, and relative ammo.
Most US ammo for L-L was “Commercially” marked ( both REM-UMC and WRA).

Most of the “Southern” route L-L ended up on the Southern Front ( Romania-Bulgaria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia);a Czech Unit within the Soviet Army would have had access to this equipment.

So there you have the possible “provenance” of this Cyrillic marked “Czech” Trench Art.

AS to the 1949 date, by then the Czechoslovak republic had become a “people’s republic”(1948) with a fully entrenched Communist Government, and resident Soviet Troop concentrations and probably still equipped with a lot of “lend lease” Equipment, although Stalin quickly withdrew all US made equipment and hived it off the “Friendly” nations around the world…can’t have the (Soviet) workers find out that in WW II, a lot of the Supplies came from the Imperialists!!!

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


All true and interesting, but the Czechs don’t use the Cyrillic alphabet. We have some contradictory information at-play here.


Ref: “Cyrillic” Writng,

As I said, the Russians were in Czechoslovakia from 1945 till 1990. And they do use Cyrillic Writng, irrespective of the fact that the Czechs and Slovaks use a Slavified Roman Alphabet.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


Have the Czechs used Cyrillic in the last 300 or 400 years?


Something is not “clicking” here…just because the item was “found” to have some connection with Czechoslovakia ( crest, etc), does not mean that some Russian Dude could not have written in Cyrillic on it…especially since they (the Ruskis) virtually controlled the country for some 45 years…and if anybody raised their heads…they got it chopped…see 1968…

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Further Idea, given the Lend-Lease origin of the Shells used to make this “art” they could have come from a member of the British-supported Czech Army in Exile; members who returned to Czechoslovakia after 1945 mostly ended up in camps after 1948 ( Stalinist Paranoia), and the item confiscated by the Czech or Soviet “secret” Police, maybe in 1949? ( since the “special forces” in CZ were still Russian controlled and manned,). Anyway, without details on what was actually written in Cyrillic, and how it was written, all this is speculation.

Doc AV


Okay, if I see it there again I’ll buy it.