Have I mentioned that I love all kinds of history including military history.
And, I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to work in a business where everything that I touch, wear, appraise and sell, has a history. Of course I don't always know the provenance of a piece of estate jewelry or object d'art, but I appreciate the fact that every piece has a story behind it.
Take this sterling silver cigarette case for example.
Let's start with the top. You can see from the photo that the case is engraved with a map of Burma with the names of the major cities. Ten of those cities, including Rangoon and Mandalay, are emphasized by flush set Burma rubies.
Obviously, we all know what was going on in these countries during these years.
Helen From Jim
Who was Helen? And more importantly, who was Jim? Was he an Aussi, an American or a Brit? Was he an officer, a diplomat, a businessman, a reporter or a spy? Who did he know? What did he witness during the war years?
When I hold this case in my hand I have the inexplicable feeling that there is a Somerset Maugham quality story of love and loss connected with it.
So much happened in Burma during 1943,1944 and 1945
and of course so much has happened since.
Quartered Safe Out There: A Harrowing Tale Of World War II by George Macdonald Fraser was on their list.
Here's what WSJ reviewer Andrew Roberts had to say about the book.
George MacDonald Fraser, British author of the Flashman series of novels, fought in the 17th (Black Cat) Indian Division of the 14th Army during the siege of Meiktila and the battle of Pyawbwe in Burma. He believed, probably correctly, that soldiering in Burma rivaled flying in the RAF's Bomber Command as "the worst ticket you could draw in the lottery of active service." This was so not just because of the Japanese enemy; there were also 15-inch poisonous centipedes, malaria, "spiders the size of plates," typhus, jungle sores on the wrists and ankles, dysentery, and leeches. In terse, unsentimental language, Fraser's superb war memoir, "Quartered Safe Out Here," relates how the soldiers in his close-knit company fought their battles, mourned their friends and simply tried to survive from day to day.
Perhaps Jim fought with 17th Black Cat Indian Division.
I wish that I knew.