World War 1 Soldier's Ditty Box belonging to Lance Corporal George Botting, a Cuckfield man who fought with The Royal Marines Light Infantry and was killed aged 29 in a training accident while working as an instructor behind the lines, on August 23rd 1917. George Botting kept his most personal belongings in this wooden ditty box. Amongst them were pictures of his wife, letters and post cards from her, his diary, pens, pipe and wash things as well as military and training manuals. On his death, the box was returned to his widow May who never remarried. It was passed down through her family with its contents intact and given to Cuckfield Museum by his nephew, Tom Wells.
In one of her letters to George, written on Aug 16th1917, May makes this extraordinary observation: 'The guns have been awful this morning. The windows are chattering away with the guns'. The guns in Northern France could be felt in Cuckfield, in the heart of Sussex.
The box and its content are on display in Cuckfield Museum. Alan Miller has written at length on Cuckfield during World War 1 in his book 'A Small Town at War' on sale in the Museum.