Its taken me 20 years to get around to researching this silver cigarette case which I bought at an antique fair before the days of Ebay.
The front is engraved "To C.J.C.G. from J.F. 1903" with an etched drawing of what appears to be an armoured train carriage bearing a number 16 and gun. The rear shows another gun on an open truck. The inside has a hallmark for London 1902 and a makers mark FH for Francis Higgins.
Although I purchased this in the belief that it must be a Boer War memento I had not held out great hope of finding out any background and the case has remained in a cabinet until recently. Retirement has at last given me the time to look at my collection again and it occurred to me that there can't be many Boer War soldiers with the initials CJCG and I also surmised that the recipient was likely to have been an officer. By plodding through the Gs in Boer War Services of Military Officers I found Grant, C. J. C. (Capt. C. Guards)- S. African War, 1899-1902.-Advance on Kimberley, including action at Belmont (wounded). Operations in the Transvaal east of Pretoria, July to 29th November 00 including action at Belfast. Operations in the Orange River Colony, Nov 00. Operations in Orange River Colony Jan 02. Operations in Cape Colony, 30th Nov 00 to 31st May 02. Transport officer to a column and performed duties of Railway Staff Offr.
The reference to Railway duties seemed promising but not conclusive but The Coldstream Guards 1885-1914 by Hall has the following
Which clinched the identification!
Grant went on serve throughout the Great War, was wounded, mentioned in despatches 8 times and gained the DSO and has his own Wikipaedia entry:-
He also served in the Great War, initially as a Brigade Major for 3rd Infantry Brigade which formed part of the British Expeditionary Force deployed to France in 1914. He was a General Staff Officer in various formations before becoming temporary Commander of 1st Infantry Brigade in 1917. In 1918 he was assigned to General Headquarters of the French Army, as a liaison officer between General Sir Henry Hughes Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff and French Marshal Ferdinand Foch.
He became Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion the Coldstream Guards in 1919 moving on to join the General Staff in Egypt in 1921. In 1925 he became Commander of 137 (Staffordshire) Brigade and in 1927 Commander of 8th Infantry Brigade.
In 1930 he became General Officer Commanding the 53rd (Welsh) Division and in 1932 Major-General commanding the Brigade of Guards and General Officer Commanding the London District. In 1937 he was appointed General Officer Commanding in Chief of Scottish Command and Governor of Edinburgh Castle, retiring from that posting in 1940.
His portrait is in the National Portrait gallery
Quite a career and all in all I'm quite pleased with my speculative purchase. I would like to pin down J.F. - could it be John French??? and am open to suggestions. His medals must be out there somewhere too....
Magnificent - the great Holmes himself might well exclaim "Elementary, my dear Watson".
Your tale is nice instance of what the archetypal detective described as reasoning backward - to quote him again :
" There are few people however, who, if you told them a result would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backward, or analytically". (From - A Study in Scarlet).
Thanks for the reading.
"The greatness of a nation consists not so much in the number of it's people or the extent of it's territory as in the extent and justice of its compassion"