Royal Navy Ditty Box and Associated Items
We have had a number of Naval ‘Ditty Boxes’ over the years but in most instances the provenance has been lost. This gorgeous grouping is very much the exception! The ditty box which is of standard pattern and is named to the original owner not once but twice with a brass plaque to front and lid. The set belonged to a Royal Navy Stoker Reginald James Thomas Potter; our research indicates Potter’s official number was K. 65508 and he was a West Country man and was born in Bristol in 1905 and got his final posting in 1994 ages 89 years. He served on HMS Exeter, the Cruiser launched in 1929 and he was clearly serving on her during her world cruise 1933-1936 and as part of the group we have his ‘crossing the line certificate’. Whilst some aspects are a little faded it is very decorative and indicates Potter crossed the Equator for the first time on 24th December 1933. The certificate measures 17 3/4” x 12” (45cm x 30cm) and would perhaps benefit from remounting in a period style frame. The grouping is completed by a plaque featuring a plated image of the ship, which was contained within the ditty box when purchased. This is inscribed ‘South America 1933-1936’ together with a scroll below detailing the places visited on Exeter’s South American tour. The plaque has a brass desk support to rear and measures 5 3/4” x 3 3/4” (14.5cm x 9.5cm) Exeter was a very famous ship in the RN and is remembered for taking part in the Battle of the River Plate. She was finally lost in the Battle of the Java Sea on 1st March 1942 in action against the Japanese. We have no idea if Potter was still serving on her then but whatever happened he survived the war and lived into old age. The ditty box is in excellent original condition and the pine has been lightly waxed and polished. Everything inside is as you would expect. The box is of standard form and has the original hinges fitted. It measures 12” x 7 1/4” x 6” (30.5cm x 20cm x 15cm). The lock is still in place although as is normally the case the key is missing but we can supply a suitable non functioning period key for display purposes. An exceptional set which served on an historic WW11 Cruiser with battle honours to match!