Recently I was browsing a book about wooden tools when I came across a beautiful sponsor’s box from a ship with an intricately carved mallet inside. I was very impressed! Then Jeanne showed me the sponsor’s box we had in our collection and I was even more impressed. It is so satisfying to see such an awesome object and then realize we have one that’s even better! Hooray for our amazing collection!
This type of box was used to contain the mallet and chisel used to help launch a ship and was then presented to the sponsor of the ship. In the case of our box, which came from HMS Warspite, the sponsor was Ivy Muriel Chamberlain (née Dundas), wife of British politician Sir Austen Chamberlain. Pictures of her can be seen HERE.
HMS Warspite was laid down October 31st, 1912, the sixth ship of the Royal Navy given that name. She was launched November 26, 1913 to a huge crowd of 30,000 at the Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth. She was one of five Queen Elizabeth class battleships commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1915 and 1916.
Warspite had a long and colorful career. She saw action at the Battle of Jutland in WWI where she was badly damaged by enemy fire. After being repaired, she spent the rest of the war at Scapa Flow. After the war, Warspite alternated between the Atlantic Fleet and the Mediterranean Fleet until 1934 when she underwent a modernization project. It was in WWII that Warspite saw more action. She was sent to various areas, but spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean where she was involved in the Battles of Calabria (1940) and Cape Matapan (1941). She provided support when allies invaded Sicily and Salermo in 1943. Shortly after these invasions she was damaged by three German glide bombs and went to Malta for repairs. She managed to return in time to offer support for the D-Day invasion at Gold Beach on June 6, 1944. The ship was sold for scrap in 1947, but broke loose from its tow and ran aground. It was eventually scrapped in 1956. For more information about her WWII career, visit HERE.