Nautical Instruments & Tools
Price = n/a
Royal Navy Ditty Box and WWII Medal Group
We always try and buy good Royal Navy Ditty boxes when they turn up but in the main their provenance has been lost down the years. If we are lucky it may have a brass name plate fitted and occasionally they come with some of their original contents ; this example is one of those.
This Ditty Box is to standard form and size and made from pine which has been lightly waxed. Inside the pen tray remains in place but the letter bars in the lid were missing so we have replaced these and it would be hard to tell these were not the issue items. To the front panel evidence exists to show where an original name plaque was mounted, just below the key hole. It would seem this was replaced by a custom made silvered example mounted in a recessed slot in the front top of the lid ; this is named to A. L. Clarke. The key was missing when purchased, as are the lock clasp locating lugs on the inside lid. We suspect this was removed when the key was lost and the lugs cut to gain access, as often seems to have happened with these items. The brass lock is still fitted although in a locked position. We have added a period key which fits the lock but does not operate it but is fine for display purposes.
Inside the box is lightly stained and shows signs of use with minor repairs to the rear of the lid. What lifts this example well above the norm is that the box contains the original owners World War 11 medal grouping. These are mounted as worn with pin attachment to the medal bar and are made up of the 1939-45 Star, the Atlantic Star which was awarded to all Royal Navy and Merchant Navy Personnel for 6 months service afloat between 1939-45 in Atlantic, Russian or home waters. The Rosette indicates the recipient was subsequently awarded the France and Germany Star for service in these areas between 6 June 1944 and 8 May 1945. This is also accompanied by the 1939-45 War Medal. These are all as usual unnamed and as issued.
What brings the grouping to life is A. L. Clarke clearly also served in the Special Constabulary and was awarded the Special Constabulary Long Service Medal. This was awarded to all ranks who served at least 50 duties in wartime or 9 years service in peacetime. This medal is engraved to Arthur L. Clarke so ties in nicely with the ditty box plaque and confirms the two items belong together and we believe this is how they should remain. We don't have any other history on Clarke other than the grouping was purchased near Bristol in South West England and we speculate the family may have had West Country origins. It may well be possible with the little information that is known the trace the service history of Mr Clarke but we will leave this pleasure to a future owner although if any armchair detectives can add anything here we would be delighted to add additional details to our listing. We understand Ditty Boxes were technically withdrawn as an issue item in 1938 and replaced by a small brown suitcase so it could be Clarke joined up before WWII seeing had a prewar Ditty Box despite being technically withdrawn he continued to use it during his wartime service. Box measures 12" x 8"x 6" (30.5 cm x 20.5 cm x 15 cm) Like all items listed on our site a full range of detailed photographs are available on request.