Douglas GRANT


GRANT, Douglas

Service Number: 1131
Enlisted: 17 July 1915, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 29th Infantry Battalion
Born: Hulme, Manchester, England, 8 September 1893
Home Town: Trafalgar, Baw Baw, Victoria
Schooling: St. Mary's Church School and Upper Lloyd Street, Moss Side, Manchester, England
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed In Action, France, 25 October 1916, aged 23 years
Cemetery: Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval
II. B. 6., Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Picardie, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Yarragon War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

17 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, SN 1131, Melbourne, Victoria
10 Nov 1915: Involvement Private, SN 1131, 29th Infantry Battalion
10 Nov 1915: Embarked Private, SN 1131, 29th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Melbourne
25 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1131, 29th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout 

Pte 1131 Douglas Grant
29th Australian Infantry Battalion,
D Company, 8th Brigade,
5th Australian Division

Today, through the fields of poppies which undulate in silent waves, proudly stand a whole generation of young men, ghosts of the past who walk in peace on the old trenches in which, more than a hundred years ago, so many lives were shattered under machine gun fire and barbed wire which gave way to flowery fields and silence in which, eternal through the weight of years, stand the graves of heroes over which we will always watch with the greatest care , with all our gratitude and love so that they will never be forgotten and that their names live on forever.

Today, it is with the deepest respect and an eternal gratitude in my heart that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Private number 1131 Douglas Grant who fought in the 29th Australian Infantry Battalion, D Company, 8th Brigade, 5th Australian Division, and who was killed in action 105 years ago, on October 25, 1916 at the age of 23 on the Somme front.

Douglas Grant was born on September 8, 1893 in Hulme, Manchester, England, and was the son of James and Margaret Grant and had a sister, Cissie. Douglas and his family lived first in Wansford, Moss Side, England, then at 1 James Street, Moss Side.He was educated at St Mary's Church School and Upper Lloyd Street School, Moss Side then after graduation emigrated to Australia, lived in Trafalgar, Baw Baw, Victoria, and worked as a farmer.

Douglas enlisted on July 17, 1915 in Melbourne, Victoria, in the 29th Australian Infantry Battalion, D Company, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Bennett, and followed a period of training at Seymour Camp then at Broadmeadows Camp and embarked with his unit from Melbourne, on board HMAT A11 Ascanius on November 10, 1915 and sailed for Egypt.

Douglas arrived in Egypt on December 7, 1915 and was disembarked at Port Suez.He fought courageously for the defense of the Suez Canal then on June 16, 1916, he joined the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) with his battalion in Alexandria and embarked on board "Tunisian" and proceeded overseas for France.
On June 23, 1916, Douglas and the 29th Australian Infantry Battalion arrived in France and were disembarked at Marseilles and were transported by train to Hazebrouk.On July 8, the 5th Division was called up to the front from training behind lines in order to replace the battalions of the Australian 4th Division which were being transferred to the Somme. The 29th Battalion undertook a difficult two-day 29 miles (47 km) approach march over cobbled roads with loads of up to 70–75 pounds (32–34 kg) before arriving at the front on the night of 10/11 July. Taking up a position between Boutillerie and Cordonerrie in the Bois Grenier, they relieved the 13th Battalion and on 19 July subsequently took part in an attack at Fromelles against the German positions around the "Delangre Farm" which was being held by the 21st Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment.A soldier of the 29th Australian Infantry Battalion described the nature of the Battle of Fromelles as follows:

"The novelty of being a soldier wore off in about five seconds, it was like a bloody butcher's shop."
Following the attack, the battalion held the line for another 11 days, beating off a particularly heavy German counterattack on July 20, before they were eventually relieved. During their introduction to trench warfare, the 29th Battalion lost 52 men killed in action, and another 164 men wounded.

After the terrible battle of Fromelles, Douglas and the 29th Australian Infantry Battalion were billeted at Fleurbaix in August where they enjoyed a period of rest and a month later,on September 21, 1916 were sent to Armentieres then joined the trenches at Houplines on September 28 and on October 20, were sent to the Somme at Buire-Sur-Ancre then marched for Mametz Wood which they joined the next day in torrential rain and freezing cold and on October 22, the 29th Battalion joined the trenches of Flers under German artillery fire then on October 24th, they joined a reserve trench, the "Crest Trench" at Flers, near High Wood, but it is here that unfortunately, the next day, Douglas met his fate.

Since their entry into the trenches of Flers on October 22, 1916, it is written in the war diary of the 29th Battalion that supplies and rations have difficulty reaching the front and on October 25, Douglas left the Crest Trench to go take water in a shell hole but was hit by a German high explosive shell and was instantly killed, he was 23 years old.

Today, Douglas Grant rests in peace alongside his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme.

Douglas Grant had a brother who fought bravely in the great war, Private number 341 James Reginald Grant who fought in the 31st Australian Infantry Battalion and lost his left eye, he returned to Australia on April 21, 1918 and died peacefully in Glenroy, Victoria, in July 1977 and rests in peace at Fawkner Memorial Park Cemetery, Victoria, Boulevard Special Lawn, Section F, Row G, Grave 24.

Douglas, you who were young, at the dawn of your life, in the prime of your life, it is with determination and courage that alongside your brothers in arms, under the flag of Australia that you answered to the call of duty to do your bit, your part in the great war to proudly serve your country and fight for freedom and peace, for what was right for you and your brothers in arms who wore the uniform and their colors with honor and loyalty and who with determination, side by side, took a step forward and marched to join the front line and the war with in their hearts, the desire to fight for their convictions, and for four years, these young men, in the trenches, on the sand of Gallipoli, in the clay of Belgium, in the mud and the poppies of the Somme fought with an exceptional bravery, a courage and a perseverance which was admired by their French brothers in arms with which they fought and fell but it is here,in the trenches of Villers-Bretonneux, Pozieres and Amiens that the Franco-Australian friendship was born between Diggers and Poilus, a friendship of which we are so proud and which unites our two countries in respect and remembrance, the Somme will never forget what Australia and these young men, my boys of the Somme did and gave for us, a peace for which they fought with determination in the battles of which we never forget the names and who were for the Australian Imperial Force, the most difficult and murderous of all the war like Mouquet Farm, Flers, Gueudecourt, Bazentin, who saw a whole generation of men being mowed down under the fire of the machine guns and the shells under which they stood courageously, they fought like lions without ever retreating despite the sacrifices they paid every day in the mud, in the shell holes, under the artillery which transformed formerly peaceful fields into fields of death,into slaughterhouses in which fell friends and enemies, rifles and bayonets in hand alongside their friends who fought and died together charging through no man's land but were caught under storms of fire and steel, under rains of shrapnel that swept away thousands of young lives caught too early in this endless nightmare that was the Somme and where almost two million men fell while doing their duty but who here will never be forgotten because their memory will live forever, they are always there by our side behind their white graves that stand up through the poppies and the sun of the Somme which, for eternity, will make the names of these heroes live in the light.We will never forget what Australia did for us and it is with all my heart, energy and devotion that I will always watch over your sons who rest in peace in the white and peaceful cities, the cemeteries of the Somme to share their stories and honor their memory so that they are never forgotten and never cease to live.Thank you so much Douglas, for everything you have done for Australia and France, in the Somme, your name will live on forever.At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember him,we will remember them.

In the third photo, Douglas Grant stands in the middle, to his left is identified Private number 1318 Robert Leslie Russell, D Company, 29th Australian Infantry Battalion who survived the war and returned to Australia on April 13, 1919.At the far right of the photo is identified Private number 1190 Matthew Matthews, D Company, 29th Australian Infantry Battalion who unfortunately was killed in action on July 29, 1918 at Morlancourt, Somme.