John Gilroy Grant born in Hawera, NZ, 1889.
Enlisted in the NZEF when the ANZACs were engaged in the Gallipoli Campaign.
Arrived in Egypt in October 1915 and joined the 1st Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment.
This was formed after the evacuation of Gallipoli and from Egypt they went to the Western Front.
He was 29 years old when he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The action in this VC story takes place during The 2nd Battle of Bapuame (21 Aug - 3 Sept, 1918) a few days before Laurents patrol action (posted here).
This period was a critical point in WWI and the Kiwis had occupied Bapaume after heavy fighting alongside the British 5th Division. They faced strong points and a very strong trench system but improved armoured support and artillery marked the beginning of the Hundred Days Offensive the turning point in the war.
It must have been a hellish and herculean effort for the allies effort to finally crack the German front line and Grant made a contribution that was easily worthy of a VC.
1st of September 1918. John (by now a Sergeant) was commanding a Platoon in the leading waves of the Battalions attack near Bancourt to take some high ground. Below is the Gazette notice published after the events that led to his VC award.
|This is only one German WWI Machine-Gun. John and his platoon faced five of them.|
John's VC was the last one awarded to a member of the NZEF in WWI. He survived the war and returned to NZ and served in the Territorial Force until 1929. He may have carried the trauma of his war experiences with him for the rest of his days until he reached 81 years old at the time of his death. A Wikipedia entry suggests remaining in employment was difficult for him due to his erratic behaviour. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is just one of the many afflictions that can haunt survivors that are witness to the supreme sacrifice that others have made.
Lest We Forget