George Malcolm GRANT

GRANT, George Malcolm

Service Number: 4065
Enlisted: 14 July 1916, Brisbane, Qld.
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 31st Infantry Battalion
Born: Sydney, NSW, 1894
Home Town: South Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Coorparoo State School
Occupation: Biscuit Maker
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 29 September 1917
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Tree Plaque: Yeronga Avenue of Honour
Memorials: Annerley Stephens Shire Council Residents Honour Board 3, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Brisbane Logan & Albert 9th Battalion Honour Roll, Brisbane T.A.9.A. Roll of Honour, Coorparoo State School Honour Roll, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient), Yeronga War Memorial
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

14 Jul 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 4065, 31st Infantry Battalion, Brisbane, Qld.
21 Oct 1916: Involvement Private, 4065, 31st Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
21 Oct 1916: Embarked Private, 4065, 31st Infantry Battalion, HMAT Boonah, Brisbane


George Malcolm GRANT #4065 31st Battalion

George Grant was one of three sons born to George and Elizabeth Grant. George was born in Sydney in 1894. The family moved to Earl Street, Thompson Estate, South Brisbane in time for George (jnr) and his younger brother, Thomas, to attend Coorparoo State School from 1903.

After leaving school, George secured a job in the biscuit factory of Morrow’s and served part time with the 9th Infantry (Oxley Regiment) Citizens Forces. George presented himself for enlistment on 14th July 1916. He reported at the time that he had been previously rejected due to bad teeth. George may have had his teeth attended to; or the medical officer had a more relaxed view, but in any event he was accepted and placed into a depot battalion at Enoggera.

On 24th August, George was allocated to the 10th reinforcements of the 31st Infantry Battalion, part of the 8th Brigade attached to the 5th Australian Division. On 21st October, the reinforcement echelon boarded the “Boonah” in Brisbane for overseas, arriving in Plymouth on 10th January 1917. While in camp in England, George reported to the medical officer with venereal disease. George was in hospital for 15 days during which his pay was stopped.

In late April, George sailed from Southampton to France where he was first processed in the huge British training and transit camp at Etaples on the French coast. On the 17th May 1917, George was taken on strength by his battalion.

The entire 5th Division had taken a severe mauling at Fromelles in July of 1916 with many of the battalions suffering close to 50% casualties. The casualty rate amongst junior officers, who led their platoons and companies into battle was even higher. Many senior officers broke down when confronted with the losses or were so affected by the experience that they were unfit for command, or in some cases took their own lives. So fractured was the morale of the division that it was effectively out of action for over twelve months. George joined the 31st at a time when the rebuilding was almost complete, although there were very few men with battle experience. The 31st war diary records that through the months of July and August 1917, the battalion was employed in non-front line duties such as road mending and salvage work.

During most of 1917, British forces were concentrated in the Ypres salient of Belgium Flanders. Successful battles had been fought at Messines and Warneton to set up the position for a thrust from Ypres east towards the Passchendaele Ridge. In early September, the ground around the Westhoek Ridge was captured and held in the battle of Menin Road. The next objective in the plan was a heavy patch of forest called Polygon Wood.
On 27th September, the 31st Battalion moved into billets at Ypres before progressing on to the assembly area at Black Watch Corner. The battalion was going into action for the first time since July of the previous year at Polygon Wood and from an inspection of the war diary from that period, the battalion commander was determined that things would go well. A limited advance was planned for the 29th September and the companies of the 31st began to move up to the jumping off trench where they would wait for the artillery barrage that would signal the moment to rise up and advance.

The enemy were able to observe the preparations and began a pre-emptive barrage of their own. Red Cross Wounded and Missing reports obtained from witnesses stated that nine men from ‘C’ company were sheltering in a trench when a German 9.2 shell (veterans could distinguish the size and type of shells from the sound) landed in the trench, on top of a dud 5.2 shell. Both shells exploded together and the resultant eruption killed all nine men outright.

It was recorded that George’s remains were buried in a temporary grave near Black Watch Corner. As the Flanders campaign ground on, the battlefields became more churned up by artillery, excavations and the all pervasive mud. Before the war ended, the ground where George was buried was retaken by the enemy. Unsurprisingly, the grave of George Grant was lost.

George was the second of Elizabeth Grant’s sons to be killed in the war; her eldest son Hugh died of wounds sustained in an aircraft attack on a field hospital in July 1917. In January 1918, George’s mother Elizabeth was granted a pension of two pounds per fortnight. The third and youngest son, Thomas was repatriated home to Australia in late 1918 but Elizabeth Grant died ten days before his arrival.

At the end of the war, the British Government formed the Imperial War Graves Commission which had responsibility for constructing cemeteries and memorials to the missing. One such memorial is the Menin Gate Memorial in the city of Ypres in Belgian Flanders. Recorded on the stone tablets are the names of 54,000 British and Dominion soldiers who died in Belgium and have no known grave. George Grant is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial

As a mark of respect to those men who gave their lives to defend Ypres and Belgium, the citizens of Ypres hold a solemn ceremony at the Menin Gate each evening to commemorate the dead, and have done so since 1928 with only a brief pause during the occupation in WW2.

Showing 1 of 1 story

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of Thomas George GRANT and Elizabeth nee McNULLY of Earl Street, Thompson's Estate, South Brisbane, Queensland

GRANT.—In loving memory of our dear son and brother, George Malcolm Grant, who was killed in action at Polygon Wood 29th September, 1917.
He died nobly doing his duty.
Inserted by his loving father, sisters, and brother.