b. 14/06/1905 Pretoria, South Africa. d. 16/06/1940 Brighton, Sussex.
George Gristock (1905-1940) was born on 14th January 1905 in Pretoria, South Africa, the second eldest of six children born to George Gristock (1870-1957), originally from Somerset, and Edith Emily Gristock, who was born in Guernsey. He had two brothers, William and Thomas, and three sisters Edith, Millicent, and Averil. By 1910, the family were living in England, and were in Hounslow, Middlesex, when Thomas and Averil were born. George Gristock senior was in the military, serving in 1st Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Dragoon Guards, and at the time of the 1911 Census, the Gristock family was living in the 2nd Dragoon Guards Barracks at Wellington Lines, Aldershot.
After schooling, George enlisted with the Royal Norfolk Regiment, and was at the rank of Warrant Officer Class II at the outbreak of World War II. Just prior to the action which led to the award of his VC, he was holding the appointment of Company Sergeant Major.
On 21st May 1940 near the River Escaut, Belgium, south of Tournai. Company Sergeant-Major Gristock organized a party of eight riflemen and went forward to cover the company’s right flank, where the enemy had broken through. He then went on with one man under heavy fire and was severely wounded in both legs, but having gained his fire position undetected, he managed to put out of action a machine-gun which was inflicting heavy casualties and kill the crew of four. He then dragged himself back to the right flank position but refused to be evacuated until contact with the battalion had been established.
Gristock and Captain Peter Barclay, who was commanding A Company, were both taken to the Regimental Aid Post. Sharing a corner of the RAP with George was Ernie Leggett, who had been badly wounded in the cement factory by enemy mortar fire. Initially left for dead, he was rescued by Lance Corporal John Woodrow and “Bunt” Bloxham. Gristock and Leggett would meet again in the Royal County Hospital in Brighton, where Leggett was horrified to find out that his CSM had had both legs amputated at the hip. “I used to stay with him for half an hour or an hour. Every day they would wheel me through. Then came that horrible morning on 16th June when they hadn’t come and got me.”
Sadly, George had never recovered from his wounds, and died that day, 16th June 1940. He was buried in a Commonwealth War Graves plot in Bear Road Cemetery, Brighton, Sussex. His medals including the VC, 1939-45 Star, War Medal 1939-45, and Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal are held by the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum, Norwich.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL NORFOLK REGIMENT MUSEUM, NORWICH.
BURIAL PLACE: BEAR ROAD CEMETERY, BRIGHTON, SUSSEX.
WAR GRAVES, PLOT ZGL, GRAVE 28
Stewart May – Image of Gristock VC grave in Bear Road Cemetery, Brighton, Sussex.