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Cradley Heath uncle's WWI lucky charm

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: April 26, 2014

  • The British and Foreign Sailors Society 1915 cross

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THIS memento of the Great War was brought to us by Harry Smith of Cradley Heath. It is a lucky charm carried through the trenches by his uncle William Tombs, who served with the Worcestershire Regiment.

It is a small copper cross that commemorates a double anniversary in 1915 – the centenary of the Battle of Waterloo and the 110th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

The cross was produced by the British and Foreign Sailors Society. This was formed in 1818 at the City of London Tavern to tend to the religious needs of seamen and it was originally known as the Port of London Society.

In 1905 the society played a large role in organising celebrations to mark the centenary of the death of Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. As part of this HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship at the battle, was to be restored and to raise funds the society took copper from the ship and from it made a variety of crosses and medallions that were sold to the public. This was repeated ten years later during the Great War.

Harry tells us that troops in the First World War would throw charms like this into the German trenches as a message to their opponents.

The cross bears a number of inscriptions but with the passing of 100 years the meaning of some of these has become unclear.

The inscriptions on the front of the cross are clear; they are the name of the society and the names and dates of the two battles. However, can anyone tells us the significance of the capital I and the letter DG?

In the centre of the reverse is the legend "Duty and Honour" and in the four arms of the cross are the four main allies at that time.

Beneath the name Britain is the legend "E.R.VII" for Edward VII. Beneath Belgium are the letters "A.N.Z."; is this in reference to Australia and New Zealand?

Beneath Russia are the letters "AC" and a small anchor; what does this mean?

With the name France is "I.CH.29.II"; Isaiah, chapter 29, verse 2, reads, "Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel."

Can you explain the references on this cross? Have you any interesting WWI items? Contact dshaw@blackcountry bugle.co.uk

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