Friday, April 25, 2014

ANZAC day post 2014 Part 2

A street in Hawera, New Zealand near Laurents VC Street is named as Grant VC Street. Named after another Victoria Cross winner from WWI. Another Street that I went down or went past when I lived in Hawera.

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


  1. When I paint, I often have documentaries on WWII and WWI playing and I enjoy the ones that contain live footage. Often I will try to imagine what it must have felt like to be there, to face those things and to keep going. I know I do not have what it takes to do so with distinction and marvel at those who do. To treat these men well upon their return and to never forget them is of vital importance.

    Thank you for telling this story.

    1. Your welcome Anne.
      Bang bang footage and images (as it was called by reporters in the Vietnam war) is hard to look away from. Like when you see a car car crash perhaps.

  2. Excellent post again. For the soldiers of that generation there was no support for what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder other than the support of their comrades in places like the RSA. Thanks for helping to keep these stories alive.

  3. And I'm especially liking that you have streets named after medal holders. We have streets named after footballers.

    1. Some interesting Street names in interesting places. All are a bit of history I guess.

  4. Another excellent post! Thanks