George Norman Grant (Service No. 9584)
(1895 - 1965)

George Norman Grant was born on 14 May 1895 in South Melbourne the third son and fifth of thirteen children born to Donald Alexander Grant and Alice Matilda Grant nee Carroll. Alexander Grant had migrated from Scotland in 1883 and had married Alice in 1890. By 1906 they had moved into the Laverton-Altona district working as the Caretaker at the Government powder magazine or explosive reserve.

At 19 years and 9 months of age George applied to enlist at Victoria Barracks for active service abroad.  Being under twenty-one years of age his father gave consent for George to join the Expeditionary Force on February 26 1915 and George passed his medical examination. On his enlistment form George noted his trade as a reader but we know that when he returned from active service he was employed as a journalist.

He commenced his basic training as a private on 8 March 1915 at Broadmeadows Training Depot until April 19 when he was sent to train with the 6th Reinforcements to the 7th Battalion. However Private Grant became ill and a detailed Medical History was taken on October 22 1915 at the 5th Australian General Hospital. His record revealed that he contracted measles whilst at Broadmeadows and after recovery from this he came down with pleurisy an Army Board of Enquiry found that Private George Grant should remain in hospital for three weeks and at the conclusion of his treatment that he should be discharged as medically unfit. This discharge took effect on 24 January 1916. From this date until 18 February 1918 George Norman Grant served with the Home Service as a staff sergeant.

On 26 November 1917 George Grant passed his medical examination to enlist for active service abroad and he re-enlisted on 19 February 1918 at Seymour but before undertaking training he was referred to the 5th Australian General Hospital before a medical board on February 25 1918 and was found to be fit.  George was now 22 years and 9 months old was still recorded as unmarried and his next-of-kin was his father Donald Grant, superintendent at the Government explosive reserve Laverton.

He was immediately assigned to the Reinforcements to the Tunnelling Companies at Seymour and promoted to acting sergeant by the Technical Battalion under regimental order no 32 and proceeded to Broadmeadow’s camp. Tunnelling companies were specialist units formed to dig attacking tunnels under the enemy lines. He joined the reinforcements totalling 51 members and departed Melbourne on 28 February 1918 on board the HMAT A71 Nestor sailing to England via Colon, Panama, Newport New York USA and Halifax Nova Scotia before reaching Liverpool England on 19 April. They marched into the Australian No. 3 camp at Parkhouse on the 20 April 1918 for further training for the front. The men of the reinforcements marched out to the Overseas Training Brigade at Deverill on 13 July 1918 and departed for France from Southampton five days later.  The following day they entered the Australian General Base Depot at Rouelles for two days before being transferred to Corps Depot camp at Pernois on 23 July. Five days later he was taken on strength with the 2nd Tunnelling Company in the field.

Unidentified men of the 2nd Tunnelling Company in Belgium near the end of WWI (Courtesy: awm.gov.au/collection/C43170)

George Grant was with his company when peace was declared 11 November 1918 and the tunnelling companies remained on the front as part of the army of occupation assisting with rehabilitation of the country by clearing roads and bridges. He was transferred on 7 January 1919 to the Australian Corps Headquarters on attachment from the 2nd Tunnelling Company and remained until 9 March when he was granted leave to the England rejoining his company on 27 March 1919.  He was detached for duty on 29 April and proceeded to AIF Headquarters and reported to unit records the next day at the Australian Army Pay Corps.  On 1 May his detachment to the Pay Office Tidworth commenced and on 7 May he was sent to the No. 4 Group Hurdcott for duty with the Paymaster.

A promotion on June 26 1919 saw George take the rank of temporary second corporal.  This rank reverted when he marched out to the Australian Army Finance section in London and remained on duty there until September 9 1919 when he was granted rank as second corporal and detached from the Australian Corp Headquarters. On 6 October 1919 he embarked from Southampton on board the HT Pakeha for his return to Australia.  The ship docked at Fremantle Western Australia on 16 November 1919 where George disembarked. His military discharge was issued in Perth on 9 December 1919 on the termination of his period of enlistment.

George Norman Grant married on 18 February 1920 to Adele Gibson Taylor.  From 1924 until 1931 their residence was listed as Station Street Werribee where he operated the local newsagency. He and Adele remained in Werribee until 1954 when they moved across Melbourne to the suburb of Camberwell. During WWII he enlisted for service with the Australian Army at Caulfield on 26 March 1942 and was assigned to organisation Australian Headquarters Victoria. He was appointed as Lieutenant provisionally on 1 April 1942 and taken on strength with GHQ. and to temporary captain on August 5 that year when transferred to the Special List. A promotion to the rank of staff captain came on 1 October 1943 which was relinquished in July 1946. He served active service in Australia from 10 April 1942 until 12 July 1946. During his time away from active service George was employed as a Journalist.

George Norman Grant passed away in August 1965 at North Balwyn at the age of 70 and was buried in Kew Cemetery.

References:

  1. ancestry.com.au
  2. Werribee Shire Banner, 3 February 1916, p.1. (Honor Roll)
  3. https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=6286549
  4. https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=116684
  5. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1339274
  6. http://www.tunnellers.net/pages/indexpag.html
  7. The Argus, Thursday September 6, 1928
  8. Image: Courtesy: awm.gov.au/collection/C43170

Research by: Graeme Reilly & Ann Cassar (ALHS)