b. 18/09/1835 Claddagh, County Galway, Ireland. d. 18/05/1901 Melbourne, Australia.
Thomas Grady (1835-1901), born at Claddagh in Galway, Ireland, in 1835, originally enlisted under age in the 99th Foot (2nd Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment) at Liverpool on 8th June 1853. He transferred to the 4th King’s Own on 13th February 1854. Whilst serving in the trenches in front of Sebastopol during the Crimean War he was recommended for the Victoria Cross by Captain Lushington RN:
“For having, on the 18th October 1854, volunteered to repair the Embrazures of the Sailor’s Battery on the left Attack, and effected the same, with the assistance of one other Volunteer, under a very heavy fire from a line of batteries.”
Shortly afterwards Tom Grady received a second VC recommendation:
“For gallant conduct on the 22nd November 1854, in the repulse of the Russian attack on the advanced Trench on the Left Attack, when on being severely wounded, he refused to quit the front, encouraging, by such determined bearing, the weak force engaged with the Enemy to maintain its position.”
The award to Grady of a VC and Bar would have been more appropriate, but the original VC warrant did not permit the award of a Bar for a second act of gallantry if the act occurred before the approval and presentation of the original VC. In this case both acts of gallantry were considered together by the War Office; the award was approved on 17th June 1857 and announced in the London Gazette of 23rd June 1857. Grady also received the Distinguished Conduct Medal with a gratuity of £5, but no record survives of the citation.
He completed his service on 21st September 1856 and was despatched to pension at Aldershot on 28th October 1856. He was decorated by Queen Victoria at the first VC presentation in Hyde Park, London on 26th June 1857 and later emigrated to Australia. He died near Melbourne on 18th May 1891. He was buried in the General Cemetery in Melbourne. Tom Grady’s gallantry became firmly entrenched in Regimental folklore and tradition with the publication, around 1905, of a poem by Ellis Williams, a former Colour Sergeant in the Regiment, entitled ‘How Tom Grady Cleared the Gun’. His Victoria Cross was donated by his family to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in 1986.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL, CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA.
BURIAL PLACE: MELBOURNE GENERAL CEMETERY, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.
RC SECTION, BLOCK S, GRAVE 891
Australian War Memorial Website – Thomas Grady’s VC medal.