Royal Army Dental Corps Cigarette Case

Souvenir cigarette cases were popular items for servicemen to bring back with them from their travels abroad. They were attractive and useful items and small enough to slip into a pocket so did not take up precious space onboard a troops ship. They were also light enough (especially if made of aluminium) that it was not too expensive to post them home to a relative as a gift. With the decline of smoking as a socially acceptable activity, these cigarette cases are now just another relic of a bygone age, but the inherent craftsmanship of their manufacture remains and they are still collected by many. I have quite a few examples with military engraving on them now, but today’s example is particularly attractive:

This case is made of aluminium and the front of the case, above, depicts an Islamic style building with the cut out parts behind backed by pieces of coloured celluloid. The other side of the case has a map of Africa:

The design suggests that this case was manufactured for sale in one of the North African Islamic countries, in this case Egypt where Britain maintained a military presence up until the late 1940s. The case opens up and is decorated within as well, a piece of elastic is fitted to hold the cigarettes into the case so they do not all fall out when it is opened:

The case is engraved “John McLachlan Campbell, Royal Army Dental Corps, Egypt 1947”:

British troops had been in Egypt since 1883, but following the fall of King Farouk in 1952, British troops had withdrawn from the nation by 1956. In 1947 men were garrisoned there as part of a 1936 treaty which gave them permission to be there to protect the Suez Canal and to train the Egyptian Army. John Campbell would have been part of this military unit in 1947, offering dental treatment to the men stationed in this country I the immediate post war period.

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