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Sailors in the Imperial Navy had small lockable wooded boxes for their personal possessions. This one recently came up on eBay and I couldn't resist the temptation to buy it. It's the perfect size for my growing pile of ephemera from the Kaiserliche Marine. Small photos, passbooks, CDVs, etc fit quite nicely.

This one came from UB-51, a Type UB-III coastal submarine that was launched 8 March 1917 and commissioned 26 July 1917.

Type UB-III.jpg

In her 6 cruises under Kalau Ernst Krafft she was credited with sinking 19 merchant ships and damaging a 20th.

UB-51 surrendered on 15 January 1919 according to a brass plate affixed to the box. I was curious if there was anything under the plate, since I had seen a similar box belonging to Tim at the last SoS in Louisville. Tim's box had a brass plate with markings we assume relate to the original owner. When I removed the plate on mine I could see where a slightly smaller plate had been previously attached along with the name Brechler (or possibly Brochler). I'm guessing some Brit removed the original plate and copied what was stamped on it into the wood, which he had recessed to fit his plate which commemorates the surrender.

Perhaps Tim will be kind enough to add a photo of the marking on his box for comparison.

This box is 10" L x 6 1/4" W x 5" H.

Ditty.JPG Name.JPG Side.JPG Top.JPG Brass Plate.JPG
 

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Hi Mike, Congratulations on your new acquisition. The who and when of the inscription is interesting, I don't think an Englishman would ever write a crossed 7. I too would like to see a photo of Tim's box.
Best regards, Norm
 

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Tim asked me to post these photos of his box.
 

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The brass plate on the box is very thick and has beveled edges. I assume that "Runge" is the sailor's name. I do not know the meaning of "72/04". Thanks for posting it, George.
Tim H.
 

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Congratulations Mike, well done. Glad to see it go to someone in our Navy circle, and a great bargain to boot! (no pun). Its a beautiful looking box with a rich patina wood color. Wish I had bid for it, but I was angling for something else at the time. More later re: III.SB. items recently purchased.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The brass plate on the box is very thick and has beveled edges. I assume that "Runge" is the sailor's name. I do not know the meaning of "72/04". Thanks for posting it, George.
Tim H.
Thanks Tim & George!

Tim: How do the dimensions compare? My box is 10" L x 6 1/4" W x 5" H.

They look very much alike, except that there is no handle on mine, nor is there any sign it it ever had one.

Your original plate looks to be about the same size as the plate on mine. My plate was obviously added after the box was captured. I sure wish they had kept the original plate.

It looks like both were marked with LAST NAME over some NUMBER/YEAR. My original plate may have had a unit stamp like yours does. Maybe it was stamped UB-51, or maybe UA??

I'm guessing the /16 on mine and /04 on yours is likely the year the matrosen joined the navy. My box came off a sub newly commissioned in '17, so it's reasonable a crewman may have joined in '16 and been trained in time to wind up on the sub.

In any event they are really cool relics!!!
 

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Not a box but a genuine U-Bootsman Dress Jacket and Cap. His name was (I am assuming he is dead now) Pelikan and was the 491st recruit of the class of 1916 into the Unterseeboots-Abteilung. This was a training outfit for submariners. The cap tally says "III.UNTERSEEBOOTS=HALBFLOTTILLE.III.". The tally and buttons are silver indicating he had a technical rating (machinist). In WWII sliver designated an "Administrative" assignment. The third half flotilla consisted of:
OCTOBER 1914
T-100
U-19
U-20
U-21
U-22
U-24
MAY 1916
G-137
T-71
U-19
U-20
U-22
U-24
U-43
U-44
U-45
U-46
U-47
U-48
SEPTEMBER 1918
U-10
U-22
U-43
U-46
U-90
U-91
U-92
U-135
U-136
UB-83
UB-84
UB-86
UB-87
UB-118
UB-120
UB-121
UB-122
UB-123
UB-125
UB-126

This would be an interesting research item to try to identify what sub Pelikan was assigned. The loops for the Unterseeboot-Kriegs-Abzeiken are also original to the jacket.
 

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Great Kaiserliche Marine items in this topic.
From my part just a couple of pictures that I can post later. But it pales in front of such great finds of yours.
 

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Mike,
The dimensions of my box are the same as yours: 10x6x5. The plate is approx. 4"x2".
Tim H.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I am continually amazed at the stuff people have.

Tim: Thanks for the size confirmation. It appears our boxes are the same, but your matrosen added a handle to his. And mine's original plate was removed to install the one about the capture.

Jeff: Sweet! Outstanding jacket and cap. They would go nicely with my U-Boot box and this U/A P.04:


IMG_0064.JPG IMG_0067.jpg It's pretty worn, but I'm sure as a training pistol it saw heavy use for a long time.

When I look at items like Jeff's and Tim's, and handle my P.04, I can't help but wonder if they crossed paths with these Ubootsmänner a hundred years ago.

UA Matrose 001 Back.jpg UA Matrose 001 Frt.jpg UA Matrose 002 Back.jpg UA Matrose 002 Frt.jpg

The inscription on the first one is:

"In memory of my father Fritz ????
"U.A. Instructor Kiel-Wik
"Barracks ship Braunschweig"

If he was a UA instructor, he may very well have fired my pistol.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Neat, thanks. I remember coming across that site a long time back but had forgotten it completely.

The box is made of 3/8" pine, with the ends joined to the sides with machine cut half blind dovetails with the pins on the ends. The bottom is nailed (and probably glued) with very small brads. The top is beveled like a raised panel on the sides and one end, sliding into grooves on the sides and end. The other end is cut down so the top can slide in and the top has a strip secured from the bottom by three flathead screws. The four top corners are reinforced by campaign style corner brasses (not galvanized steel as on the website). The hasp is a 1 1/8" x 4" flat strip of steel with round ends attached by three rivets. The hole in the hasp is 9/16" in diameter. The exterior was varnished while the entire interior, including the top, is white (now cream) paint.
 

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Mike - Okay, now that is the detail I was looking for! I am not a Navy man or Ditty Box guy - but the object is cool nonetheless. The pictures in this post intrigued me enough to start a detailed question post but then I figured I should do a little research on my own. My questions were exactly as you laid out your last post (i.e. raised panel, sliding top, more importantly the cutdown back end with faux lip strip attached to lid) and a picture from the Pirates Lair website of the back end and lid removed answered all. Thanks - Jeff
 

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Tim Hawkins and another member requested that this photo be added to the ditty box thread. Boxes and Bread but not bread boxes.
 

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Thanks George. And, BTW, does anyone know the German word(s) for "ditty box"? Surely they had a name for it. George has suggested "eigentumkasten" which translates to "personal box". Can our German friends help us here? Thanks!
Tim H.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
A similar box, late Weimar or early 3rd Reich just sold on eBay for 66€ plus freight. Corners are box joints instead of dovetails like the Imperial boxes Tim and I have. This one is dated 1933.

image.jpeg
 

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Thanks George. And, BTW, does anyone know the German word(s) for "ditty box"? Surely they had a name for it. George has suggested "eigentumkasten" which translates to "personal box". Can our German friends help us here? Thanks!
Tim H.
The one that just sold on the German eBay was described a "Utensilienkasten", however I have seen "eigentumkasten" used as well. You probably need to find an old German sailor to get a good answer.
 
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