A Fascinating Salvaged Shipwreck Forecastle Relic in the Form of A Ducal Crown; D-Day 1944


Origin: British
Period: Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1944
Height: 5.25 inches
Diameter: 7.5 inches

From a ship sunk by enemy action off the Normandy Landing beaches, and recovered by divers in 2008, the cast iron ducal crown, with eight alternating leaves, hand painted with black highlights, with rope twist detailing set with red and blue rectangular and circular cabochons.

This evocative piece of WWII maritime salvage is in as found condition. A number of the finials on the leaves are absent, hardly surprising given the ship more than likely foundered due to a torpedo attack, but the overall condition is pleasing. There are four holes present showing how the relic was mounted.

This figurehead relic would have been positioned in the forecastle, which is the upper deck of a sailing ship, forward of the foremast. In terms of the symbolic use of a crown, ships and other units of some navies have a naval crown above the shield of their coats of arms, which may explain the physical incarnate presence of this relic. HMS Lawford had, for instance, a crown in its regalia.

There were several British vessels that sunk in 1944 including HMS Boadicea, HMS Lawford and HMS Mahratta though it is not currently known what ship this relic belonged to. The most likely candidate from this group, would be HMS Lawford by elimination, as the dive was in 2008. HMS Lawford, on 8 June 1944, was hit by enemy fire off Juno Beach during an air attack and sunk with thirty-seven of her crew lost. We cannot be sure of the relics provenance but is certainly worthy of further research, to pin down the ship that this crown belonged to.

Mystery aside, this relic simply sings when you hold it, emanating a story told from amongst ghostly wreckage in the mighty deep, a lasting testament to those who gave their lives in action.