GRANT John Gilroy
10/2950, Sergeant, 1st Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment, WW1
1224, Legion of Frontiersmen, New Zealand
Gazetted 27 November 1918, p14040 For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty near Bancourt on the 1st September 1918, when Sergeant in command of a platoon forming part of the leading waves of the battalion attacking the high ground to the east of Bancourt. On reaching the crest it was found that a line of five enemy machine gun posts offered a serious obstacle to further advance. Under point-blank fire, however, the company advanced against these posts. When about twenty yards from the posts Sergeant Grant, closely followed by a comrade, rushed forward ahead of his platoon, and with great dash and bravery entered the centre post, demoralising the garrison and enabling the men of his platoon to mop up the position. In the same manner he rushed the post on the left, and the remaining posts were quickly occupied and cleared by his company. Throughout the whole operation on this and two previous days Sergeant Grant displayed coolness, determination and valour of the highest order, and set a splendid
Born 26 August 1889, Hawera, New Zealand
Died 25 November 1970, Auckland, New Zealand
Buried Golders Cemetery, a part of Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand
Plot Soldiers Burial M, Row 9, Plot 95
Joined the Legion of Frontiersmen at Auckland on 7 March 1956.
At the time of Grant's enlistment, the NZEF was engaged in the Gallipoli Campaign and after initial training, he embarked for the Middle East in October 1915. He joined the 1st Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment of the New Zealand Division, then being formed in the aftermath of the evacuation from the Gallipoli Peninsula. It duly embarked for the Western Front.
Grant served with the battalion throughout 1916 and 1917, and the following year had reached the rank of sergeant. He was 29 years old when he performed the deed for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. On 1 September 1918 near Bancourt, the leading waves of the battalion on reaching a crest of high ground, found that a line of enemy machine-gun posts offered a serious obstacle to further advance. The company, however, advanced against these posts under point-blank fire, and when about 20 yards (18 m) away Grant, closely followed by a comrade, rushed ahead of his platoon, entering the centre post and demoralising the garrison so that the platoon were able to mop up the positions. In the same manner he rushed the post on the left and the remaining posts were quickly occupied and cleared by his company. Shortly afterwards, Grant was promoted to second lieutenant and traveled to Cambridge in England for officer training in October 1918. He was wounded in November, within days of his return to the front. His service with the NZEF ended with his repatriation to New Zealand in 1919 Grant remained involved with military life, serving in the Territorial Force until 1929, by which time he had reached the rank of lieutenant. He was discharged due to his age and also for being unable to attend camp. He later worked in Paeroa, becoming noted for his erratic behaviour which meant he found it difficult to gain employment. Undiagnosed at the time, it is thought that Grant suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
NOTE FROM THE LEGION OF FRONTIERSMEN JOURNAL
January 29th was a highlight in the history of ‘R’ Squadron (Dunedin), the day of the unveiling by the Governor General of “VC Corner” and the dedication by Rev Keith ELLIOT VC. The day was bright and shiny for the brilliant ceremonial parade and a full turnout of the Legion added colour to a noticeable degree. After inspection by Captain S.R HEATHMAN, the Frontiersmen marched to the parade ground to be posted to individual vital points previously arranged. Their positions merged them into the parade drawn up for inspection by the Governor General, and their appearance and the way they carried out their duties was most favourably commented on. For this we take encouragement.
After the parade an informal reception and afternoon tea was given by the RSA to the visiting dignitaries and the nine VC holders present. To this function the officers and HQ staff of ‘R’ Squadron had a special invitation. We were honoured to meet individually and chat to each of the VC men. During the time there the Adjutant was able to obtain an autographed signature from each of the now famous soldiers holding the coveted decoration. It was a sight we shall never forget seeing these nine men lined up, each man wearing at the inside of his row of medals the Victoria Cross with its own peculiar red ribbon. Some of these men are now rising in years and grey hair is well in evidence. Prior to the date mentioned, we had a letter from Captain KERRY asking for contact to be made with their member, Frontiersman Jack GRANT, VC. Well it was our privilege to meet him the night after his arrival and to run him up to our Squadron Headquarters where half a dozen of us had a very happy hour. He is proud to wear his Legion badge too. We saw Jack and some of the other VC’s several times; but the night before their departure from Dunedin, where they had been guests of the city, appealed to them the most. Three of us called on Jack GRANT to wish him good health and a safe journey, and shortly him and Jack HINTON got into our car and ran out to Lieutenant WEBB’s house on an impromptu visit. We had the happiest hour at Webbie’s and will not forget it in a hurry. Thank you Auckland, for the privilege of entertaining your VC member.
[© NZ Command Journal, April 1956]