Great War Moray Firth Minesweeping operations Distinguished Service Cross group awarded to Chief Boatswain E.A. Griffin, Royal Navy

London Medal Company Great War Moray Firth Mineswe.

A very fine Great War Moray Firth Minesweeping operations Distinguished Service Cross group awarded to Chief Boatswain E.A. Griffin, Royal Navy, who having worked his way up and been granted a Warrant Officer's commission in 1902, rammed and sank the ketch 'Egremont' in 1909 when drunk in command, but then distinguished himself when in command of the minesweeping trawler 'Janus' and the drifter 'Honing Gull', before dying in service in June 1918.

Group of 4: Distinguished Service Cross, reverse with hallmarks for London with date letter 'b' for 1917; 1914-1915 Star; (BOSN. E.A. GRIFFIN. R.N.); British War Medal and Victory Medal; (CH.BOSN E.A. GRIFFIN. R.N.)

Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine.

Ernest Arthur Griffin was born in Walsingham, Norfolk, on 6th May 1871, and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class aboard the boy training ship H.M.S. Impregnable from 16th August 1886 being then advanced to Boy 1st Class on 10th August 1887, being then posted aboard the screw corvette H.M.S. Rover from 18th April 1888, this vessel being part of the Training Squadron, with Griffin being rated as Ordinary Seaman (No.138189) on 6ht May 1889.

Griffin was then posted to the corvette H.M.S. Ruby from 22nd May 1889, followed by H.M.S. Duke of Wellington from 27th May 1889, an old sailing ship of the line, which was then Flagship to the Port Admiral at Portsmouth. Griffin was promoted to Able Seaman on 29th August 1889, and was then posted to the Royal Naval Gunnery School H.M.S. Excellent from 9th November 1889, followed by the torpedo school Vernon from 16th June 1891, before being posted to the shore base Pembroke from 27th April 1892, and promoted to Leading Seaman on 12th May 1892.

Griffin was posted aboard the cruiser H.M.S. Royal Arthur from 2nd March 1893, and promoted to Petty Officer 2nd Class on 19th November 1893, and served on this ship on the Pacific Station through to 1896. Griffin was posted back to Vernon from 26th September 1896 when Royal Arthur returned to Portsmouth for a refit, and was promoted to Petty Officer 1st Class on 17th December 1897, being then posted back to Excellent from 3rd May 1898, and then to Vernon again from 27th November 1898, being posted to Victory I from 11th December 1898, and then to the new shore establishment Duke of Wellington I from 1st April 1899, followed by a posting aboard the battleship H.M.S. Prince George from 21st December 1899, serving with the Channel Fleet, before returning to Vernon from 19th January 1901, followed by Duke of Wellington I again from 17th March 1901, and then the cruiser H.M.S. Eclipse from 30th May 1901, which was then being commissioned, and on commissioning at Chatham Dockyard and sailed out to the China Station where it relieved H.M.S. Hermione. Interestingly Griffin's service records do not contain any further ship board appointment's, however it is noted that he was promoted to Acting Boatswain with seniority on 1st December 1901, this being a Warrant Officer's rank, and as such was then posted back to Duke of Wellington I from 14th April 1902, and was then commissioned as a Boatswain on 1st December 1902.

Griffin who was now a commissioned Royal Navy Warrant Officer, was then posted aboard the cruiser H.M.S. Europa, from 19th August 1903, seeing service in the Mediterranean, and then on the Australian station. Whilst on the Australian station, Griffin was posted aboard the sloop H.M.S. Penguin from 23rd January 1905, which was then serving as a survey vessel in Australian waters, operating in the Western Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and around the Great Barrier Reef. Griffin was posted home to join the cruiser H.M.S. Edgar with the Home Fleet from 27th May 1907. Around this time, Griffin was recorded as having 'good judgement' as an officer, and a certain Captain Parker described him as a zealous officer.

Griffin was then posted to Victory and put in command of the gunboat H.M.S. Insolent, and it was during his first command aboard the Insolent that he was involved in an incident when this vessel collided with and sank the ketch 'Egremont' at sometime in late 1909. A ketch is a two masted fore and aft rigged vessel of 104 tons. This incident resulted in Griffin being Court Martialed on the 10th and 11th December 1909, and as a result of Griffin was dismissed his ship and deprived of one years seniority, he was at the time of the incident 'drunk on board' and as a result negligently performed his duties. Griffin was ultimately dismissed his ship and replaced in command on 1st February 1910.

Griffin was then posted aboard the vessel H.M.S. Sealark from 15th February 1910, being once again involved in hydrographic survey work, and then employed on the China Station, in 1910 this vessel sailed from Penang to the Australia Station, and she undertook various hydrographic surveys around Australia and the South Pacific. Griffin was then posted home to Victory, for an appointment at the Royal Naval Barracks from 5th October 1912, being then appointed to the command of Torpedo Boat 86 from 27th December 1912, and apart from the loss of a torpedo in November 1913 which he was not blamed for, had a clear record, but was then superseded and amazingly considering the previous circumstances, posted back in temporary command of H.M.S. Insolent again from 19th January 1914, but was then placed on leave from February 1914.

Griffin was appointed to the Victory for command of a trawler, the 'Janus' from 19th May 1914. This was an Admiralty trawler built for minesweeping duties and launched in August 1914, and Griffin was the first person appointed to the command of this vessel having initially been in command during her build. This vessel appears to have been under the command of Victory at Portsmouth, and was then appointed under the command of to Iron Duke from 29th June 1914, but with the outbreak of the Great War, 'Janus' was appointed to the depot ship Columbine, followed by the depot ship Stephen Furness from 19th January 1915, and in May 1916 as report by a Rear Admiral Simpson, described 'Jamus' as the best managed boat.

Griffin was next appointed to the command of His Majesty's Drifter 'Honing Gull' from mid 1915, and also operating from Stephen Furness, which was engaged on minesweeping duties in the Moray Firth Field and every field laid in Area V, this being the same duties as he had performed whilst in command of Janus. Griffin who was promoted to Chief Boatswain on 1st December 1917, and was then awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in the London Gazette for 17th April 1918, this being for his minesweeping duties having been recommended by Rear Admiral Peterhead - the citation reading as follows: 'For long and meritorious service and devotion to duty in minesweeping. Engaged in clearing Moray Firth Field and every Field in Area V since 25th August 1914.' This job was extremely hazardous, with a high risk of the vessel being blown up on a mine in the process, and it is no surprise that after such a long time on the job, Griffin was awarded a decoration for his bravery and distinguished service.

Griffin died, presumably of illness, whilst still in command of 'Honing Gull' on 25th June 1918, and is buried in Portsmouth Milton Cemetery.

13 June 2017