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Marshal of the Royal Air Force ArthurTedder Presentation Inkwell
An absolutely unique item presented by a group of elite Officers attending a course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich in 1923 and 1924. The College was established in 1873 and provided advanced training courses for both Naval and other serving military Officers. The RNC Greenwich closed its doors for the last time after 125 years in 1998.
This fine silver capstan style inkwell is hallmarked Birmingham and date coded for 1919. Whilst showing some age related knocks and bangs what really lifts this item into a totally different category is the presentation engraving to the front panel. Whilst a little indistinct after nearly 100 years this reads : '1923-1924 Presented to Royal Navy Staff College By the attached Officers Major F. L. Pardoe, Captain S. A. H. Hungerford, Major E. J. de C Boys, Wing Commander T. R. C-B-Cave, Wing Commander A. W. Tedder. 'The last named, Lord Tedder, had a most illustrious and well documented career, serving first as a pilot in the RFC in WWI and rising to become Deputy Supreme Commander at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force under General Eisenhower for Operation Overlord in WWII.
Limited research has proved the other named Officers attending this course are a veritable 'Who's Who' of the British military. Major Pardoe served with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in WWI, won a DSO and retired a Lt. Colonel in 1930. Captain S. A. H. Hungerford served with the Indian Army, won a Military Cross and retired in 1943 with the rank of Colonel. Major E. J. de C Boys served with the Lincolnshire Regiment in WWI, also won the Military Cross and retired as a Lt Colonel in 1935. Wing Commander Thomas Reginald Cave-Brown-Cave also had an impressive military career, serving with the RNAS in WWI, transferring to the newly formed RAF in 1919, where he specialised on Airship research. In WWII he was appointed 'Director of the Camouflage Research' at Farnborough, with the primary responsibility of concealing possible military targets from the Luftwaffe. Post war became Professor of Engineering at University College, Southampton, retiring in 1950.
1st Baron Tedder's service career is of course extensively documented and it is confirmed he attended the RNSC from 24th September 1923 until the spring of 1924. Tedder famously fell out with Montgomery during Operation Overlord but when the unconditional surrender of the Germans came in May 1945 Tedder signed on behalf of General Eisenhower. He was promoted to the substantive rank of Air Chief Marshal on 6th June 1945 and was further elevated to Marshal of the Royal Air Force on 12th September 1945. Post war he had responsibility for implementing arrangements for the Berlin Airlift. Tedder was elevated to the Peerage as Baron Tedder in 1946 and retired from RAF service in May 1951.
We assume this inkwell was purchased, engraved and presented to the Royal Navy Staff College by this most illustrious group of Officers, on the completion of their course in 1924. It would have been held in their silver collection and probably dispersed when the college finally closed its doors in 1998. I have owned it since 2005 but now is the time for a new custodian to take on this unique piece of military silverware. As mentioned it shows some age related dings and bangs and the hinge exhibits a little play and the hinge rod may be a replacement. A removeable ceramic inkwell insert is fitted in the interior recess. The silver marks on the lid remain crisp and clear but those on the capstan body are now hard to decipher, but are detailed on the attached photograph. The base retains the original leather cover that is in excellent condition and measures 5.25" diameter (c.13 cm) and it stands 2.5" high (6.5 cm). A unique and frankly museum quality piece of British military history.