Topic: Grant VC Street (TDN 23/01/2016)

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Grant VC Street 

John Gildroy Grant was born in Hawera in 1889. His parents, Jane and George were both Scottish immigrants who met and married in Hawera. They had nine children - five sons and four daughters.

After he left school John completed a carpentry apprenticeship and set up as a builder and contractor in Hawera. In addition he served as a volunteer fireman and territorial soldier. He was also a champion swimmer who was often singled out for comment in the local papers.

Three of the Grant boys enlisted during World War I. John joined the Wellington Infantry Battalion in 1915 and was posted to Egypt. In 1916, he was transferred to France with his unit.

Sergeant John Grant's Victoria Cross was won on Bancourt Ridge on 1 September 1918 when he and Lance- Corporal C T Hill attacked and took a German machine-gun position that was holding up the advance. "Sergeant Grant displayed coolness, determination, and valour of the highest order," the official Gazette notice said.

Ces Hill received a Distinguished Conduct Medal for his part in the action.

Grant returned to a hero's welcome in Hawera in 1919 and planted an oak tree in the grounds of the Watertower to go with those already planted by Hawera's other VC, Harry Laurent and the Mayor Edwin Dixon. They may still be seen there today.

Like many other World War I servicemen, John Grant's war experience had its effect on him and he probably suffered from what is now known as post-traumatic stress syndrome. The decades following the war were to prove difficult for him. He was discharged from his Territorial unit, his marriage, health and building business failed and he became estranged from his children.

John Grant died in 1970 in Auckland and was buried in Waikumete Cemetery.

His VC and medals are shared by Puke Ariki and the National Army Museum, Waiouru.

Grant VC Street - along with Laurent VC and Dixon Streets - was laid out in the 1930s. Their arrangement was apparently intended to appear like a pattern of 'V's and 'C's.

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