Cigarette case : Lieutenant M Griffin, 30 Battalion AIF

Accession Number RELAWM09088
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Elastic, Electo Plated Nickel Silver (EPNS)
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1914-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Rectangular, hinged cigarette case with push catch (sliding clasp is missing), small opening tabs and a stamped snake skin pattern. Internally each side is fitted with a retaining elastic which is held by three c-shaped clips; the elastic and central clip are missing from one side. One external corner is stamped 'EPNS'. The upper portion of the case has been struck by either a bullet or a small piece of shrapnel in a downward trajectory, producing large (35 x 40 mm), jagged entrance and exit holes. The region of the case around the exit hole is discoloured with what appears to be dried blood.

History / Summary

Cigarette case carried by Lieutenant (Lt) Marcus Griffin, C Company, 30 Battalion, AIF during the assault on the Hindenburg Line at Bellicourt on 29 September, 1918. US troops carried out the initial assault with the 3rd and 5th Australian Divisions in support. The morning was so foggy that the Americans were not able to completely eliminate the Germans and the following Australians consequently met with stiff pockets of resistance. It was during one of these small engagements that Lt Griffin was wounded. A few minutes previously he had taken the cigarette case out of his left pocket of his tunic in order to get a cigarette and absentmindedly put the case back in the right hand pocket; soon after he was wounded by a piece of shrapnel shell which went through the cigarette case, deflecting the piece of shell away from his lungs, instead cutting through three ribs on its downward path.

Lt Griffin enlisted on 10 November 1914 and embarked with 13 Battalion on 22 December, serving on Gallipoli and attaining the rank of Sergeant before returning to Australia with enteric fever in November 1915. After attending the Royal Military College, Duntroon for a short officer's course during 1916, Griffin returned to duty as a 2nd Lieutenant, with 12th Reinforcements, 30 Battalion, arriving back in England in late January 1917. He contracted influenza in June 1918, and did not rejoin his battalion until 8 September, just prior to the Bellicourt attack. After spending 2 months in hospital, he returned to Australia in late December 1918.