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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 248

The Egypt and Sudan medal awarded to Private J. Griffin, Berkshire Regiment, who was present at Kandahar on 1 September 1880, after the Battle of Maiwand

Egypt and Sudan 1882-89, dated reverse, 2 clasps, Suakin 1885, Tofrek (41/127 Pte. J. Griffin. 1/Berks. R.), heavy pitting, contact wear to unit, good fine

Note one of 19 men who served with the 66th in Afghanistan and the Berkshire Regiment at Tofrek.

James Griffin was born at Stewartstown, Eyrane County, Ireland in August 1845 and enlisted at Portadown on 28 August 1865. Posted to India the next year with the 82nd Foot he volunteered for the 27th in 1869 and transferred to the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment on 1 August 1874.


The outbreak of the Second Anglo-Afghan War saw six companies of the Berkshires posted to General Primrose's Kandahar Field Force. This unit marched to join the forces Wali Sher Ali Khan on their way to fight in the bloody battle of Maiwand. Around 100 men were left at Kandahar to aid in the defence of the city, while it is not clear whether Griffin was a survivor of the battle or one of the 10 defenders his medical records do not provide the 'Maiwand' endorsement.

He was certainly present during the relief of the city by General Roberts when the 66th formed part of the Field Reserve. The year after the action the Regiment was amalgamated with the 49th Foot to form the Berkshire Regiment. Griffen was part of a small contingent transferred from the 2nd Battalion (composed of the former 66th) to the 1st Battalion on 10 October 1881.


This unit was posted to Egypt as part of General Wolseley's Army during the Anglo-Egyptian War. Once there they joined General Sir Evelyn Wood's Brigade at Kafr-ed-Daur. Screening the British beachhead at Alexandria from Egyptian troops they engaged them on several occasions throughout August 1882.

With the British victorious at Tel-el-Kabir, they found themselves committed to Egypt and Sudan. When a Dervish army threatened Suakin an expedition under General Graham sailed to intercept them. Griffin landed at Suakin with the 1st Battalion on 30 January 1885.


Intending to advance on Tamaai Graham sent a column under General McNeill to establish a supply base at Tofrek, there they came under attack by a strong Devish Army. The British began to construct a zariba fence, and half of the Battalion was ordered to occupy the south-western section. The rest were further north and east of the zariba outside the defences when suddenly a patrol of lancers came in reporting a large enemy force on their heels.

On cue a large Dervish force attack from the desert and stampeded the transport animals grazing outside the zariba. In the confusion a number of them managed to overwhelm the defenders of the south-western redoubt, slaughtering the sailors manning the gardiner guns. The men of the Berkshires withdrew to the north wall of the redoubt and opened fire, throwing the attackers back in confusion. To the East the other half of the Battalion formed a square and opened fire, halting the attackers as they attempted to push north. Unable to exploit their advantage the Dervishes were forced to withdraw.

Griffin survived the battle and returned to Britain in November 1885, being stationed at Netley until the following year when he re-joined 2nd Battalion. He was finally discharged at his own request on 25 January 1898; sold together with copied service papers.

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