George (Teddy) GROVES

GROVES, George

Service Number: 3118
Enlisted: 1 September 1915, Blackboy Hill, Western Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 1st ANZAC Cyclist Battalion
Born: Fremantle, Western Australia, 1896
Home Town: Midland, Swan, Western Australia
Schooling: Beaconsfield Primary School
Occupation: Fitter
Died: Como, Western Australia, cause of death not yet discovered, date not yet discovered
Cemetery: Karrakatta Cemetery & Crematorium, Perth, W.A.
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World War 1 Service

1 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3118, 28th Infantry Battalion, Blackboy Hill, Western Australia
18 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3118, 28th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
18 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3118, 28th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Medic, Fremantle
25 Aug 1918: Wounded "The Last Hundred Days", Gassed
2 Mar 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 3118, 1st ANZAC Cyclist Battalion

My Grandfather - My Hero

"Le Tour de Teddy" The Genesis of the Journey.
The first churning within me to visit the battlefields of France are not a recently formed desire, but one commenced many years ago, in a 60 minute chat I had with my Grandfather - George Groves.(seen in his garden, on Great Eastern Highway Greenmount.)
We as a family were hugely devoted to our Greenmount Grandparents, and I fondly remember our weekly Sunday Evening visits. Smelling the roast chicken cooking in the Metters wood stove as I watched "The Winners" on his flash colour TV, all seemed to make eating the compulsory rhubarb desert worthwhile.
As a teenager I looked forward to my monthly visit to Greenmount to help Teddy out in his garden. ( I was an innocent - it never struck me at the time that I had the motive, means and opportunity to ruin his rhubarb crop) It was my time alone with a wonderful mentor.It was during one of these visits that I artfully asked the question "Teddy - What was it like in the War ?"
Teddy, like so many returned serviceman from all conflicts, had previously never discussed his experiences. Almost immediately his voice changed in tone and timbre and he sounded much younger than his then 75 years of age.
For the next hour he spoke with great passion, and with surprising profanity, using words which I had always considered were a creation of my generation.
There were times that his voice broke, and times of great laughter, but the strongest theme that came out of this unexpected "channelling" of Private Groves was the love he had for his mates, and the empathy he felt for the French evacuees, who were forced to head away from their homes and towns, as Teddy and his mates marched forward.
He talked of his role as a Battalion Runner, of being honoured that the German Artillery would chase his lone figure running across open country in a shortcut to get the message through.
Tears welled in his eyes for a brief period before he gave me the most memorable vignette of his story. In a sleety grey rainy day in mid 1918 Teddy - once again carrying a message destined for Battalion Headquarters - became lost and decided to plonk himself in a shell hole to regain his bearings.
He quickly spotted 3 German soldiers on the other side of the crater, helmets off and smoking a cigarette. He said "I knew where I was at that point, right in the middle one of his (The Germans) listening posts"
Using the universal language Teddy said to the enemy "F#@k, too far" and ran from cover in the direction he had just came. He was waiting for the crack of a German mauser to "help me along" but all he heard was laughter coming from behind him.
As swiftly as this seance like session had commenced, it had finished when Teddy tapped the table, and his voice returned to the polished diction that no doubt served him well sitting on the Bench as a long running Justice of the Peace.
"At any rate, that is the first I have ever spoken about the war - not even to Eileen ( our beloved Grandmother) and it may be the last"
Luckily it was not the first and final time he spoke about such things, because after having been "softened" up for further questioning by me, Teddy consented to participating in a series of oral history interviews conducted by my beautiful Aunty Val Casey.
It is the product of these interviews that I post from time to time. More importantly the "Le Tour de Teddy" is the product of the service and sacrifice of my grandfather and his many mates - many who never returned.
Travelling around the world to "pay our regards" to his fallen mates, and allies, is the least we can do.
Jon Groves

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