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Naval Officers Sword belonging to Eric Beeham

Date: c 1850
Dimensions:
Overall: 970 x 110 x 80 mm, 1.18 kg
Medium: Brass, metal, cord, shagreen
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Elaine Beeham
Classification:Armament
Object Name: Sword
Object No: 00036873
Place Manufactured:England

User Terms

    Description
    This naval officer's sword, thought to have been manufactured in England around 1850, belonged to merchant mariner and naval officer Eric Beeham. It is unlikely that he used this weapon for service.
    SignificanceThis sword is part of an extensive collection relating to the career of merchant mariner and naval officer Eric Beeham. The collection provides a comprehensive record of Beeham's career, and shows the culture of merchant mariners in the material Beeham chose to keep and the items he took to sea.
    HistoryThe naval officer's sword symbolises the pomp of naval officers' dress and are an important ceremonial aspect of naval life. By the mid-nineteenth century, cutlers and manufacturers were active in many English industrial centres, notably Birmingham. The weapons were designed exclusively for use at sea and developed in the late eighteenth century, with the Royal Navy producing the first regulation sword pattern in 1905. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century, these regulations were regularly revised. Officers usually carried swords when landed, and many preferred to maintain two swords: one for ceremonial use, and one for combat. By the early twentieth-century, swords were seldom used during boarding action, but were retained for ceremonial and presentation use.

    It is unclear how Beeham came across this sword, as it is thought to have been manufactured about 1850. We know that Beeham had an interest in all things maritime, and he probably acquired this sword as an antique collectors item.

    Eric Beeham was born in Sydney on 14th April 1917, and as a teenager he joined the Mosman Bay Company of the Navy League Sea Cadets. In 1936 he went to sea as a cadet with P&O working on the RMS MALOJA and the RMS STRATHNAVER. He became 4th officer on the RMS RANCHI in 1928 and subsequently worked on the STRATHEDEN.

    Eric Beeham became involved in the Second World War when the STRATHNAVER was commissioned as a troop ship. He qualified through the Merchant Navy Officers' Defence Course in London and was appointed as a Sub-Lieutenant, minesweeping around the Australian coast on HMAS SAMUEL BENBOW, HMAS WARREGO, HMAS WARRAWEE and HMAS NAMBUCCA. He subsequently commanded the patrol boat NEREUS. Beeham also served on the HMAS COOLEBAR, HMAS KANIMBLA, HMS SPRINGDALE in the Pacific, New Guinea, Milne Bay and Columbo, and on the aircraft carrier HMS RAJAH in the Mediterranean, Indian Oceanic and Atlantic. Beeham passed his masters examination in 1945 while on HMS VICTORY in London. He served on HMS ROYAL ULSTERMAN for the Normandy landing and on several ships demobilising troops at the end of the war.

    Beeham left the Navy in 1948 and returned to work as a merchant mariner, working as second officer on SS CURLOSS between Australia and Britain, becoming chief officer of that ship. He subsequently worked as chief officer with the India Steamship Company, the Lyle Steam Company, J. Marr and Son, Newcastle and Hunter River Steam Ship Company and the Australian Oriental Line. Captain Beeham worked on the SS CHANGTE from 1953 to 1960 and the TAIPING for one year.

    From 1962 to 1982 he worked as a pilot for the Maritime Services Board in Newcastle, Ballina, Yamba, Coffs Harbour, Port Kembla, Botany Bay and Sydney Harbour. He continued to serve in the naval reserves.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: ROYAL NAVY OFFICER'S SERVICE SWORD, PIPE BACKED BLADE ETCHED WITH KINGS V CROWN AND NAVAL MOTIFS, GRIP OF SHAGREEN HARBOUR A LION - HEADED SOLID HALF HILT BASKET WITH FOULED ANCHOR AND GEORGE IV CROWN

    Web title: Naval Officers Sword belonging to Eric Beeham

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