b. 28/12/1877 Roorkee, India. d. 20/02/1967 Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
John Duncan Grant (1877-1967) was born in Roorkee, United Provinces, India on 28th December 1877, the son of Colonel Suene Grant, Royal Engineers. He was educated at the Manor House School in Hastings, Sussex, Cheltenham College, and at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and entered the Army on 22nd January 1898, as a Second Lieutenant. The following year, he joined the Indian Staff Corps, and became a Lieutenant in late 1900. He served in Tibet from 1903-1904 where he was wounded, mentioned in despatches, received the Medal, and was recommended for, and awarded the Victoria Cross (the only one for this action, 24th January 1905).
On 6th July 1904, at the storming of the Gyantse Fortress, Tibet, the storming company, led by Lieutenant Grant, had to advance up a bare, almost precipitous rock-face with little cover and under heavy fire. Showers of rock and stones were being hurled down the hillside by the enemy and only one man could go up at a time, crawling on hands and knees. Lieutenant Grant and a havildar attempted to scale the final defensive curtain, but on reaching the top they were both wounded and hurled back. Regardless of their injuries, they made another attempt and, covered by the fire of men below, were at last successful.
Grant received his Victoria Cross on 24th July 1905 from King Edward VII, the last investiture carried out by him. It was also the last Victoria Cross to be awarded for nine years and the outbreak of the Great War.
On 19th January 1907, at All Saints Church, Margaret Street, London, he married Kathleen Mary Freyer, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel P. J. Freyer CB, MD, IMS. They went on to have two children, Hugh Duncan Grant (born 1908) and Madeline Grant. In 1907, he was promoted to Captain. After serving in India and New Zealand, Grant returned to India in August 1914 on the outbreak of the First World War, taking part in the attempt to relieve the Anglo-Indian Force besieged in Mesopotamia at Kut. He also served with the 3/11th in the Third Afghan War where he received his D.S.O. and India General Service Medal with three clasps.
Between 1925 and 1928, he was Assistant Adjutant General, Army H.Q., India and was promoted a full Colonel on 2 September 1926. Coinciding with his retirement, he was awarded the C.B. in the Birthday Honours List of 1929, and in 1934 he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the 10th Gurkha Rifles. During the Second World War Grant served with the Home Guard in London.
He died in a nursing home in Tunbridge Wells in 1967 and is among 10 men from the town who received the Victoria Cross remembered in the Victoria Cross Grove in Dunorlan Park. He was cremated at the Kent and Sussex Crematorium, Tunbridge Wells, and his ashes were scattered on the Garden of Remembrance Lawn. A plaque and a tree were placed in his memory. On 2nd July 2014, his medals were auctioned by Morton and Eden, and realised a hammer price of £340,000 (£408,000 with commission) and were purchased by the Ashcroft Trust, and are displayed in the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: TUNBRIDGE WELLS CREMATORIUM, KENT. ASHES SCATTERED.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the John D Grant VC Medal Group at Imperial War Museum, London.
Brian Drummond – Image of the VC Board in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.