John Gildroy Grant VC

b. 26/08/1889 Hawera, New Zealand. d. 25/11/1970 Auckland, New Zealand.

John Gildroy Grant (1889-1970) was born in Hawera, New Zealand on 26th August 1889. Prior to World War I he worked as a builder and contractor in the Taranaki area. He enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 14th June 1915 and embarked for Egypt with the 7th Reinforcements to the NZEF in October. He joined the Taranaki Company of the 1st Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment in France in 1916.  

In two years of fighting in Belgium and France, Grant rose to the rank of Sergeant.  On 1st September 1918 he was in command of a platoon during an attack on Bancourt Ridge.

On 1st September 1918 near Bancourt, France, 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 Sergeant 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.For this action Sergeant Grant was awarded the Victoria Cross.  

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. He, together with three other New Zealanders who had been awarded the VC, received his medal from King George V in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 27th February 1919. His service with the NZEF ended with his repatriation to New Zealand later that year. His home town of Hawera gave him a formal welcome on his return on 29th October 1919 and he was presented with an inscribed gold watch.

In early 1919 Grant was commissioned, before returning to New Zealand and leaving the Army in 1920.  After later service in the Territorial Force he retired in 1929 with the rank of Lieutenant. He was discharged due to his age and also for being unable to attend camp.

Following the end of his service career, Grant lived in Taranaki and in Auckland where he continued to work as a builder, owned a small business, and was a keen follower of horse racing. 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. Jack Grant died in Auckland on 25th November 1970, aged 81. He was buried in Golders Cemetery, Waikumete, New Zealand with full military honours. His medals are held by the Army Museum, Waiouru.






Andy Lee – Images of the Grant VC plaque and statue in Hawera, New Zealand.