This artefact is a Crown and Anchor game set. Crown and Anchor is a dice-based gambling game traditionally played in the Royal Navy, hence the use of crown and anchor symbols. The game’s popularity spread and the National Army Museum has several sets originating from both World War I and World War II within its collections.
This set was made by Wellingtonian Pte Frederick Melville Hawthorn of the Infantry Regiment, 2NZEF at the onset of the Egyptian Campaign during WWII. As you can see the board is homemade out of a piece of canvas painted with symbols, while the dice have been purchased to go with it. The entire game folds up to be stored in the leather cup which is also used for tossing the dice.
Although there are five dice with this set, the game is played with three. It is played between a player and a banker. The player bets on one or more symbols and then throws the dice. The banker then pays out the player’s stake for each of the die that matches the symbols the player bet on. The odds favour the banker and so the soldiers would have taken turns in this role.
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