John Elisha Grimshaw
Victoria Cross Recipient for Gallantry in Action in World War I
John Elisha Grimshaw
John Elisha Grimshaw fought in World War I and received the Victoria Cross on April 25, 1915 for gallantry in action in the Gallipoli Campaign. As a member of the Lancashire Fusiliers, he participated in the landings at Helles (W Beach) at Gallipoli and was one of the “Six VCs before Breakfast”. Another Grimshaw, Cecil Thomas Grimshaw, of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, fought on nearby V Beach at Helles on the same day and was killed in action there on the following day.
John Elisha Grimshaw was descended from one of the lines of Grimshaws at Abram, near Wigan, in Lancashire, as described on a companion webpage. He was born in 1893 and was employed as a carpenter at Cross & Tetley’s Collieries in the Wigan coalfield when he enlisted in June 1912. He died in London in 1980.
Thanks go to Greg Grimshaw for providing the impetus for this webpage. Thanks also to Paul Wilson for providing valuable information on the Find-a-Grave website. And thanks to Martin Grimshaw for an e-mail with additional info on John’s VC medal and vital statistics. Thanks to Mary Sayers for providing the family history piece prepared by David Garrett. Thanks also to Vera (Grimshaw) Carter for providing ancestor information, the photo and Christmas card, and the 1969 newspaper article.
Paul Wilson provided the following excellent photo to the Find-a-Grave website in January 2005.
The photo is also available on the Lancashire Fusiliers website at the following webpage address:
The above webpage also includes the following 1965 photo of John E Grimshaw.
“The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.”
The Victoria Cross website includes the following tabular information on John Elisha Grimshaw and the basis for his receiving the VC.
GRIMSHAW, John Elisha
|Campaign||First World War|
|Deed||On 25 April 1915 west of Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey, three companies and the Headquarters of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, when landing on W Beach, were met by a very deadly fire from hidden machine-guns which caused a large number of casualties. The survivors, however, rushed up and cut the wire entanglements notwithstanding the terrific fire from the enemy and after overcoming supreme difficulties, the cliffs were gained and the position maintained. See also BROMLEY, C., KENEALLY, W., RICHARDS, A.J., STUBBS, F.E. and WILLIS, R.R.|
|Remarks||Corporal Grimshaw was one of the six members of the regiment elected for the award. Later achieved rank of Sergeant.|
to all awardees)
The following article was published in the Summer 2002 edition1 of “Past Forward”, the newsletter of the Wigan Heritage Service (p. 8).
Martin Grimshaw provided the following essential information on John Elisha Grimshaw’s origins, medal and later life.
GRIMSHAW, John Elisha (reg. No. 498).
Corporal. 1st Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers.
London Gazetted on 15th March 1917.
Born: Abram, Wigan, Lancs on the 20th January 1893.
Died: Isleworth, London on the 20th July 1980.
Memorial Cremated at S.W. London Crematorium, Hamwell, Middlesex.
One other decoration: The Distinguished Conduct Medal
Digest of Citation reads:
On the 25th April 1915 west of Cape Helles, Gallipoli, three companies and the Headquarters of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, when landing on West Beach, were met by very deadly fire from hidden machine-guns which caused a large number of casualties. The survivors however, rushed up and cut the wire entanglements not withstanding the terrific fire from the enemy and after overcoming supreme difficulties the cliffs were gained and the position maintained. (Corporal Grimshaw was one of the six members of the Regiment elected for the award. The other five* were BROMLEY. C; KENEALLY, W; RICHARDS A.J; STUBBS, F.E; and WILLIS, R.R). * SEE INDIVIDUAL CITATIONS.
He was mentioned in Sir Ian Hamilton’s Despatch. Corporal Grimshaw’s own account, given at the time, was as follows, “In boats we got within 200 or 300 yards from the shore when the Turks opened a terrible fire. Sailors were shot dead at their oars. With rifles held over our heads we struggled through the barbed wire in the water to the beach and fought a way to the foot of the cliffs leaving the biggest part of our men dead and wounded.” He would say nothing of his own experiences.
He had been content with his DCM until he was informed by the Hull representative of the Daily Despatch that he had been elected by his comrades for the VC. His comment was, “Whose leg are you pulling.”
He was presented with a gold watch by the people of Abram and district in Lancashire. He was one of 32 survivors from a body of 800 men who had been in the landing on West Beach.
Corporal Grimshaw came from a large family and all the males worked down the mine. He joined the army on the 13th August 1912 at the age of 19 and was serving in India, at the outbreak of the European War (WW I), and from there he was sent to Gallipoli.
After recovering from severe frost-bite he was posted to Hull as a Musketry Instructor. It was here he met and married, within three months, Miss Margaret Stout (Maggie). They had two children, a daughter Mary and a son Leslie.
He continued his military career finishing as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Lt. Col Grimshaw was said by his niece, Mrs. Louie Davis, to be a very private man who shunned publicity. He spent his last days at Twickenham and nobody there knew that he held the Victoria Cross.
The website of the Lancashire Fusiliers provide the following excellent background description of John Elisha Grimshaw and his military service.
John Elisha Grimshaw was born on the 23rd January 1893 at Abram near Wigan Lancs. He was a miner in Wigan Colliery and enlisted into the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1912, he was then 19 years old. He was first posted to India, and by the time of the Lancashire Landings at W beach Gallipoli, he was a L/Cpl signaller in C Coy. His role was to maintain contact between the HQ on board HMS Euryalus and the Units on the ground.
During the furious fighting on the beach and for hill 114,C Company was reduced to 4 Officers and 83 men. Among the survivors was L/Cpl Grimshaw. His pack and water bottle were riddled by bullets and his cap badge was smashed by a bullet, but by a miracle he was unharmed. He had remained calm and cheerful throughout the ordeal and frequently braved intense close range enemy fire to get his signals through.
What is not widely known is that although 6 men were nominated for the Victoria Cross, the rules at that time did not allow for this to happen and only 3 of the 6 VCs were awarded, the others were awarded other honours, L/Cpl Grimshaw actually received a Distinguished Conduct Medal and it was presented to him at Abram Parish School Church hall along with a gold watch. Following furious questions in the Houses of Parliament as to why bureaucracy should be more important than bravery, the rules were changed and all the nominated 6 were eventually awarded the VIctoria Cross.
Grimshaw had suffered frostbite at Gallipoli and following recuperation he was posted to Hull in 1916 as a Sergeant instructor. He then went to France with the LFs and was commissioned in the field. In 1918 he served with the 1/75th Carnatic Infantry in India and rejoined the LFs in 1921. Various postings and promotions followed, culminating in him being Chief Recruiting Officer in Northumberland and later in East Anglia as Lt Colonel. He died on the 20th July 1980. What a man. It may be useful at this point to show the make up of the 29th Division at the time of Gallipoli, and some of the detail of how and where the Division was made up. The 29th Division comprising 3 brigades of Infantry (86,87 and 88 Brigades) and some Divisional supporting units, was formed at Nuneaton, Rugby, Banbury and Stratford between January and March 1915, by bringing together units of the regular army that were on overseas garrison and similar duties around the British Empire when war began. (1LF were in India where Private Grimshaw was taught to be a signaller and got his first stripe) Training and mobilization took place in the Midlands, in the area Warwick-Nuneaton-Rugby. The Division was initially earmarked for the Western Front, but was eventually selected for the attempt in the Dardanelles. Landed at Gallipoli in April 1915. Served at Gallipoli until January 1916. Arrived in France in March 1916. Served in France and Flanders until the Armistice.
Below is the Order of Battle for the 29th Division:
86th (Fusilier) Brigade
2nd Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (joined January 1915)
1st Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers (joined January 1915)
16th (Service) Bn (Public Schools), the Middlesex (joined April 1916, disbanded February 1918)
1st Bn, the Royal Munster Fusiliers (joined January 1915, left April 1916)
1st Bn, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (joined December 1914, left October 1917, rejoined April 1918)
1st (Service) Bn, the Royal Guernsey (joined October 1917, left April 1918)
2/3rd (City of London) Bn, the London Regiment (joined August 1915, left January 1916)
2nd Bn, the South Wales Borderers (joined January 1915)
1st Bn, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (joined January 1915)
1st Bn, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (joined January 1915, left February 1918)
1st Bn, the Border (joined January 1915)
1/5th Bn, the Royal Scots (joined March 1915, left July 1916)
4th Bn, the Worcesters (joined February 1915 )
2nd Bn, the Hampshire (joined February 1915)
1st Bn, the Essex (joined February 1915, left February 1918)
2nd Bn, the Leinster (joined April 1918)
The 1st Bn, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment (joined February 1915, left April 1918)
2/1st (City of London) Bn, the London Regiment (joined August 1915, left January 1916)
1/2nd Bn, the Monmouthshire (joined as Pioneer Bn May 1916)
Engineer Units 2nd (Lowland) Field Company (joined Jan 15, left Feb 16, subsequently renamed 410th Field Coy)
455th Field Company (joined Mar 15, renamed from 1st (West Riding) Field Coy)
497th Field Company (joined Feb 16, renamed from 3rd (Kent) Field Coy)
510th Field Company (joined Jan 15, renamed from 2nd (London) Field Coy)
Below is a time line of the 29th Division through World War 1
16 March 1915 : sailed from Avonmouth, landing in Egypt two weeks later
10 April 1915 : moved to Mudros
25 April 1915 : landed on Gallipoli, at Cape Helles
Battles for Krithia and the Achi Baba heights
The Division occupied positions on Cape Helles
2 January 1916 : withdrawn from Gallipoli and moved to Egypt
29 March 1916 : landed at Marseilles and proceeded to the Western Front
The Battle of Albert (first phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916)
The Battle of Le Transloy (eighth phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916)
The First Battle of the Scarpe (first phase of the Arras Offensive)
The Second Battle of the Scarpe (second phase of the Arras Offensive)
The Battle of Langemarck (second phase of Third Battle of Ypres)
The Battle of the Menin Road (third phase of the Third Battle of Ypres)
The Battle of the Polygon Wood (fourth phase of the Third Battle of Ypres)
The Battle of Broodseinde (fifth phase of the Third Battle of Ypres)
The Battle of Poelcapelle (sixth phase of the Third Battle of Ypres)
The Battle of Cambrai
The Battle of Estaires (first phase of the Battles of the Lys)
The Battle of Messines, 1918 (second phase of the Battles of the Lys) (88th Brigade)
The Battle of Hazebrouck (third phase of the Battles of the Lys) (less 88th Brigade)
The Battle of Bailleul (fourth phase of the Battles of the Lys) (88th Brigade)
The First Battle of Kemmel (fifth phase of the Battles of the Lys) (88th Brigade)
The Advance in Flanders (took part in the Action of Outtersteene Ridge )
The Battle of Ypres 1918
The Battle of Courtrai
On the morning of the 26th April 1915 the 1st Bn Lancashire Fusiliers could only muster 16 Officers and 304 men out of a total of 27 Officers and 1,002 men who had embarked for W beach.
The following additional record was provided on the Find-a-Grave website:
Corp John Elisha Grimshaw
Birth: Jan. 23, 1893
Death: Jul. 20, 1980
World War I Victoria Cross Recipient. Grimshaw was born in the village of Abram, near Wigan in Lancashire. He worked as a carpenter in a colliery like his father until enlisting in the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1912. Grimshaw was awarded the V.C. for action during the landings at W Beach during the Gallipoli Campaign, April 25, 1915, one of the group known in the press as “The Six V.C.s Before Breakfast (the others were Capts. R.R. Willis and C. Bromley, Sgts. A. Richards and F.E. Stubbs, and Pvt. W. Kennealy). Grimshaw was acting as a signaler for C Company of 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, keeping contact between his unit and the operations headquarters on HMS Euryalus. In the course of the fighting Grimshaws pack and water bottle were riddled with bullets, and his cap badge was smashed, but he miraculously escaped injury, constantly braving intense machine-gun fire from the Turkish positions to maintain communications. Grimshaws citation read: “On the 25th April, 1915, headquarters and three companies of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers in effecting a landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula to the West of Cape Helles, were met by very deadly fire from hidden machine guns, which caused a great number of casualties. The survivors, however, rushed up to and cut the wire entanglements, notwithstanding the terrific fire from the enemy, and after overcoming supreme difficulties, the cliffs were gained and the position maintained. Amongst the many very gallant officers and men engaged in this most hazardous undertaking, Captain Bromley, Serjeant Stubbs, and Corporal Grimshaw have been selected by their comrades as having performed the most single acts of bravery and devotion to duty.” (The citation for Bromley, Stubbs, and Grimshaw was not issued until March 15, 1917, due to War Office regulations and red tape; the citation for Willis, Richards, and Kennealy, worded identically, had been issued on August 23, 1915.) Grimshaw survived Turkish gunfire only to fall victim to frostbite. He spent five weeks in hospital and then was sent to England to recuperate. In 1917 he was in France when he was commissioned in the field, after which he was posted to India. He rejoined the “Lancs” in 1921, then retired from active duty to become a recruiting officer, a role he filled until his final retirement in 1953 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after forty-one years service. He passed away at the age of 87 at his home in the Twickenham area of London. His V.C. medal is privately held. (bio. By Paul F. Wilson)
South West Middlesex Crematorium
Record added: Jan 22 2005
By: Paul F. Wilson
As part of his wife’s family history, David Garrett prepared the following piece on the family of John Elisha Grimshaw. Thanks again to Mary Sayers for providing this information.
Mary Agnes Grimshaw was born in September 1917 in Hull, daughter of John and Maggie, and her brother Leslie was born just over a year later.
Her father, John Elisha Grimshaw, was born in 1893, in Abram, a few miles southeast of Wigan in Lancashire. He was the eldest child of John Grimshaw, a colliery carpenter, and Lucy Ann Grimshaw (nee Allan). In 1901 John E, aged 9, was living at 24 Warrington Road, Abram with his parents and two younger siblings, Agnes and George. (Agnes was to become Aunt Aggie, mother of the famous Cousin Louie). John and Lucys family eventually ran to eight or nine children.
At some stage they moved to Platt Bridge, just a mile up the road towards Wigan, though Johns father continued to work in the Abram mine, which was at the centre of the community. It was dangerous work – a few days before Christmas 1881 there had been an explosion in the Abram pit which killed 48 men. Nonetheless, there were few options in the town, and young John started work at the mine alongside his father at an early age.
At about 18, however, he joined the Army, and was soon posted to India, with the rank of Lance Corporal. After the outbreak of World War 1, the Royal Lancashire Fusiliers were transported direct from India to Turkey, to take part in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. On 15th April 1915, on the opening day of the landings, John, by now a Corporal, took part in the landings west of Cape Helles. The troops were met by a very deadly fire from hidden machine-guns which caused a large number of casualties. The survivors, however, rushed up and cut the wire entanglements, notwithstanding the terrific fire from the enemy; after overcoming supreme difficulties the cliffs were gained and the position taken.
John and five other members of the regiment received the Victoria Cross for their actions that day – the famous “6 VCs before breakfast” of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. John, under intense fire, had ripped away at the wire with his bare hands, and carried the damage to his hands and fingers for the rest of his life.
The award was gazetted in March 1917, by which time John had married. He took his vows with Maggie Stout, from Hull, in the parish church at Sculcoates, near Hull, on 26th August 1916. Mary was born in 1917 and Leslie in 1918.
After the war, John took a job as an Army Careers Officer, and eventually rose to the rank of Lt-Colonel. His job involved much moving of house, and one spell was in Cardiff, where Mary did much of her schooling. Eventually the Grimshaws moved to Darlington, and it was from here that Mary left home, aged 17. She did her initial training at the Hospital for Industrial Diseases in Manchester, after which she moved to London for her general training, eventually becoming a staff nurse at the Central Middlesex Hospital, which was evacuated to Harefield early in World War 2. The rest of her story is told in Chapter 14 below.
John Grimshaw died in 1980, aged 87. Maggie lived on to celebrate her 100th birthday in September 1992, and died the following February.
Based on the above information, the following preliminary descendant chart can be constructed for John Elisha Grimshaw.
John (“Jack”) Grimshaw & Lucy Ann Allan
|—John Elisha Grimshaw (1893, Abram – 1980) & Margaret (Maggie) Stout (Sep 1892 – Feb 1993). Married 26 Aug 1916, Hull, Lancashire (Sculcoates Parish Church)
|—|—Mary Agnes Grimshaw (Sep 1917 – ?)
|—|—Leslie Grimshaw (1918 – ?)
|—Agnes Grimshaw & unknown Davis
|—James Grimshaw & Amy Nuttall
|—|—Leslie Grimshaw (11 Jun 1918 – ?) & Elsie ?
|—|—|—Joan Grimshaw & ? Ure
|—|—|—John Anthony Grimshaw (19 Nov 1949 – ?)
|—|—|—Fiona Mary Grimshaw (16 Jan 1960 – ?) & ? Beric
|—|—|—David Andrew Grimshaw
|—|—|—|—Gregg Grimshaw (son of John or David Grimshaw)
|—four or five additional Grimshaw children
James, Leslie and Gregg added November 2007 based on the following posting:
Posted: 7 Jul 1999 7:01AM
I was doing some digging today and came across your address. I hope we can help each other. My grandfather (Leslie) was born in Wigan (June 11,1918) to James and Amy (Nuttall). GD’s uncle was the John (Jack) that got the VC in Turkey 1915. There is a few of us here in Canada, As I have just started I have not much in England but would love any help.
Elsie, Joan, John Anthony, Fiona Mary, and David Andrew added May 2008 based on the following posting:
I was most interested to see your message on the VC website, concerning my Father, Leslie Grimshaw and my Grandfather, John Grimshaw(VC) I am the oldest of Leslie and Elsie Grimshaw’s children’ the others being: John Anthony Grimshaw 19 11 1949 currently living in Hull Fiona Mary Grimshaw( Beric)16 1 1960 currently living in France and David Andrew Grimshaw living in Uxbridge, Middlesex. I would be happy to talk if this information is of any interest to you.
Joan Ure( previously Grimshaw) Bedford, UK
Vera (Grimshaw ) Carter has provided ancestor information that enables the above chart to be extended as follows:
John Grimshaw & Betty Standril. Married 1781.
|—James Grimshaw & Mary Winstanly
|—|—Peter Grimshaw & Ellen Silcock
|—|—|—John Grimshaw & Ann Barton
|—|—|—|—John Grimshaw & Lucy Ann Allan
|—|—|—|—|—John Elisha Grimshaw (1893, Abram – 1980) & Margaret (Maggie) Stout (Sep 1892 – Feb 1993). Married 26 Aug 1916, Hull, Lancashire (Sculcoates Parish Church)
|—|—|—|—|—|—Mary Agnes Grimshaw (Sep 1917 – ?)
|—|—|—|—|—|—Leslie Grimshaw (1918 – ?)
Sources: http://www.swmcrematorium.gov.uk/, Google Maps
Vera (Grimshaw) Carter is a cousin of John Elisha Grimshaw who has a good deal of information in her possession on John and his wife, Margaret Grimshaw. Vera kindly sent several emails in May 2010, which are shown below, with attachments of images related to John and Margaret Grimshaw
From: Vera (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Thu 5/06/10 8:18 PM
Hi: I saw your name in an email regarding John Elisha Grimshaw (VC). He was my cousin. His uncle was my father, Robert Grimshaw, born in Abram on September 21st 1894. My father was a pianist, moved to Bolton in Lancashire where we lived until emigrating to Canada in 1966.
I have details of this family if you are one of our relatives. The only Tom Grimshaw I knew of was my father’s brother, who emigrated to New Zealand. Please let me know if you are part of this family.
From: Vera (email@example.com)
Sent: Sat 5/08/10 12:15 PM
To: Thomas Grimshaw (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks for your reply. I have looked at the website you started for John Elisha, knew a lot of the details, however there were details of the family which are very interesting to me. John Elisha (always given his full name I remember) used to call at our home every year on his way to London for the Remembrance Day Memorial, he would get off the train at Bolton (close to Wigan) have a visit and then back on the train to London. He would send us Christmas cards each year to celebrate the occasion – I will send you one (my scanner at home need to take the larger area, will do this at the office on Monday) – also I have another clipping from the paper – I have not get found the date of the paper, but will continue to look, This, too, I will send to you. The photograph of him you have posted I have in my album, I will look for any others I may have. I do remember him as a tall, straight, elegant man, which sows in his photographs.
Should I find anything else about John Elisha I will let you know.
Thanks again for your reply and the website.
Vera (Grimshaw) Carter
PS. I do have another cousin, Leslie Grimshaw, (son of James Grimshaw and Amy Nuttall) who is in Ontario who may have information – I will check with him.
From: “Vera” <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2010 8:32 PM
Subject: John Elisha Grimshaw
Hi there! This is a newspaper cutting I thought you might like to see (if you don’t have it already). I believe it was around 1969.
I will see whether there is anything else you can add to your site.
Bye for now.
From: Vera (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Mon 5/17/10 9:20 PM
To: Thomas Grimshaw (email@example.com)
Hi Tom, Glad you were able to add the newspaper cutting to the website. I took a look yesterday and noticed it was there. Thank you. I believe I mentioned John used to visit on his way to London, well he also sent a Christmas card every year. I have attached a scan of the one from 1976, which is in his handwriting. You will see the front of the card and also a note above his writing stating “The Victoria Cross and George Cross Association”. These were cards with photographs of the Queen inside – I have about 6 or 7 different ones which John sent over the years. I will check the old photographs and see if there are any more.
Look forward to hearing from you should you receive any more information from others.
From: Vera (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Mon 5/17/10 9:47 PM
To: Thomas Grimshaw (email@example.com)
I don’t know whether the attached is something you are interested in – it is a photograph of John Elisha’s grandmother and grandfather (mine too), and his aunts and uncles. Unfortunately the eldest children in the family, Helen and John (his father), are not on the photograph. It was taken in 1897 (according to my father’s writing on the back).
My father, Robert (Bob) on his mother’s knee.
Photo of John Elisha Grimshaw’s grandparents, John and Ann (Barton) Grimshaw, and several of their children, taken in 1897. Unfortunately John Elisha’s father, also John Grimshaw, is not among the children.
John and Margaret (“Maggie”) Grimshaw sent holiday cards to his uncle Robert Grimshaw and family for several years. Shown below is a signed card from 1976 (it is not known if the card is signed by John or his wife).
Vera Carter kindly provided a newspaper article from about 1969 that describes John Elisha Grimshaw and his Gallipoli experiences. The article is shown below.
Subsequently in December 2010, Vera Carter provided the following photos of John Elisha Grimshaw (left) with his Uncle Robert Grimshaw and of John Elisha Grimshaw’s father, John Grimshaw (second photo).
Photos of Vera Carter and her parents, Robert and Elizabeth Grimshaw have been posted on Facebook by “Kooter Sgirl”. Her descriptions are shown below the photos.
My Mum, Vera Grimshaw (Carter).
Added March 26, 2008.
Added by Kooter Sgirl to the group “The Grimshaw Clan”.
My Grandparents, Robert and Elizabeth Grimshaw
Added March 26, 2008.
Added by Kooter Sgirl to the group “The Grimshaw Clan”.
My Grandad, Robert Grimshaw.
Added March 26, 2008.
Added by Kooter Sgirl to the group “The Grimshaw Clan”.
Greg Grimshaw posted on Facebook the following photo of the John Grimshaw above in his later years. He was apparently nicknamed “Jack” as indicated by the photo description provided by Greg.
Greg Grimshaw’s description on Facebook:
My great great grandad Jack Grimshaw of Warrington Rd. in Abram, Wigan, Lancs. Carpenter at the mine. Picture is at age 92. Father of Victoria cross John Elisia Grimshaw.
Added May 28, 2008.
Added by Greg Grimshaw to the group “The Grimshaw Clan” from the album grimshaw clan.
John Grimshaw’s final resting place at South West Middlesex Crematorium is described on a website as shown below.
GRAVE LOCATION FOR HOLDERS OF THE VICTORIA CROSS IN THE COUNTY OF : MIDDLESEX
|Name||Gerald Littlehales, GOODLAKE||John Elisha, GRIMSHAW||Norman Cyril, JACKSON||Alan, JERRARD|
|Force||Coldstream Guards||1st Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers||106 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve||66 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps|
|VC won||Crimea, 28 October 1854||Gallipoli, 25 April 1915 *||Schweinfurt Raid, Germany, 26 April 1944||Near Mansue, Italy, 30 March 1918|
|London Gaz||24 February 1857||15 March 1917||26 October 1945||1 May 1918|
|Born||Wadley, Berkshire, 14 May 1832||Abram, Lancashire, 23 January 1893||Ealing, W London, 8 April 1919||Lewesham, SE London, 3 December 1897|
|Died||5 April 1890, Denham||20 July 1980, Isleworth||26 March 1994, Hampton Hill||14 May 1968, Lyme Regis, Devon|
|Grave||St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Harefield||SW Middlesex Crematorium, Hanworth||Percy Road Cemetery, Twickenham||Hillingdon Churchyard, (Headstone) Exeter & Devon Crematorium|
|Location of VC||Coldstream Guards RHQ||Not publicly held||Not publicly held||Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon|
|Remarks||None||* One of the “Six VCs before breakfast”||None||None|
South West Middlesex Crematorium, shown below, is located in the southwest part of the London metropolitan area, near Heathrow Airport, as shown in the map below the photo.
Apparently a small lake in Australia has been named for J. E. Grimshaw, as noted on the following webpage on the website of the Lancashire Fusiliers:
The occasion of the photos shown below is described on the website as follows:
A lake in Australia has been named in honour of Lt. Col. Grimshaw. Click Here for pics.
These pics have been sent to us by Spike Macey in Australia. He will be submitting a full account of this memorable and historically important event later.
Shown below is the plaque placed near the lake and two views of the small lake. The location of the lake in Australia has not yet been determined for this webpage.
Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw was born in Ireland and served in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers during the Boer War, during which time he kept a very interesting diary. This diary recounts his experiences as a prisoner of war in Pretoria at the same time as Winston Churchill. Later, Cecil fought in World War I, again with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, in the Gallipoli campaign. This campaign, fought on the Turkish peninsula on the north side of the Dardanelles (Gallipoli peninsula), was generally considered to be unsuccessful. Cecil Grimshaw fought on V Beach of the Helles was killed in action there on April 26, 1915. Cecil Grimshaw is described in more detail on a companion webpage.
The Gallipoli Association provides the following description of the six individuals who were awarded the Victoria Cross on April 25, 1915 during the Helles landing at Gallipoli.
Six VCs before breakfast
By Chris Staerck
The expedition to the Dardanelles was a direct result of the deadlock which arose on the Western Front with the onset of trench warfare, but its origins lie in the confused nature of Balkan politics. By the early part of 1915 the BEF had been exhausted and the men in the territorial divisions were slowly being churned up in France and Belgium. It was obvious that the war in the west would be protracted, and with Russian reverses at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes victory for the Allies would not be forthcoming in the east. Keen to knock Turkey out of the war as quickly as possible, to re-open an invaluable supply line to Russia, and to keep pressure off the Russians from Turko-German forces, the Allies embarked upon the Dardanelles campaign.
The plan, which has been termed the only truly innovative strategic concept of the entire war, met with approval from both politicians and military authorities; Kitchener’s approval was doubtless greatly influenced by the fact that few military resources were envisaged, and thus the effort on the Western Front would not be compromised. He selected Ian Hamilton (his old friend and trusted colleague) to command and allocated him forces accordingly. Before the landings were sanctioned, the navy would attempt to blast its way through. However, the failure of the navy to force the Dardanelles (at a loss of 6 battleships; 3 sunk, 3 badly damaged) meant that if the plan was to succeed then the army would have to land on the peninsula. Hamilton’s force comprised the British 29th and Royal Naval Divisions (17,600 and 10,000 men), the 1st Australian and Australian and New Zealand Divisions (30,500 men – although the latter included c.4,000 men of the 29th Indian Brigade) and the 1st French Division (16,700 men).
Extract of a letter from Hamilton to Kitchener 30/4/1915 (Public Record Office – PRO 30/57/61)
He planned for two main landings, the ANZAC’s at ‘Z’ beach (Ari Burnu) on the Aegean coast, and 29th Division at ‘S’, ‘V’, ‘W’, ‘X’ and ‘Y’ beaches (Cape Helles), with two further diversionary landings by the Royal Naval Division (Bulair) and the 1st French Division (Kum Kale). The whole operation was to be possibly the greatest amphibious landing ever attempted.’ The Turkish defenders numbered 80,000 men in 6 divisions, with the 9th Division centred in Krithia at Cape Helles, and the 19th Division (designated by Liman von Sanders as the mobile reserve) located around the Sari Bair ridge, not far from Anzac Cove.
W Beach: Lancashire Landing
At Cape Helles the four Fusilier battalions of the 86th Brigade were largely entrusted with the main efforts on ‘V’, ‘W’ and ‘X’ beaches. The Turks of the second and third battalions, 26th Regiment, had sited their defenses well, were suitably protected by wire, and ably supported by machine guns. Though comparatively very few in number (only two companies of the 2/26th were deployed to cover V’ and ‘W’ beaches) most of the defenders survived the naval bombardment intact and were ordered not to open fire until the enemy were 100 metres away. The 1st Lancashire Fusiliers landed on ‘W’beach, mostly in boats from HMS Euryalus. The men were jammed together tightly so that movement was virtually impossible. Consequently, when the Turkish machine guns opened fire, raking the boats end to end, many soldiers just sat there dead and upright as their bodies could not topple. For the survivors of the initial shock, some jumped from the boats and attempted to cut through the wire, others sank in too deep water, and yet more were shot down as theywaded waist deep in water up to the wire. The action which passed has been burned forever into military folklore. Major Shaw vividly recalls the day,
I looked back. There was one soldier between me and the wire, and a whole line in a row on the edge of the sands. The sea behind was absolutely crimson, and you could hear the groans through the rattle of musketry. A few were firing. I signalled them to advance. I shouted to the soldier behind me to signal, but he shouted back ‘I am shot through the chest’. Then I perceived they were all hit.
Thankfully a small party tore a breach in the Turkish wire and the Lancastrians charged through, though as Sir Ian Hamilton remarked only to be ‘mown down as by a scythe’. In the face of this fierce assault the Turkish fire began to falter, but in spite of the valour and spirit of the Fusiliers, things might have gone badly wrong had not Brigadier-General Hare personally directed some of his men to the left of the beach, out of the fire of the Turks, to positions from which they were able to advance and take the Turks in the flank. Despite the severity of the Turkish machine gun fire which caused high casualties, the 1st Lancs struggled through the wire in an operation described by Hamilton as unsurpassed in British military annals. The Turkish fire discipline was exemplary, holding themselves in check until the fusiliers were actually landing, thus ensuring that they were trapped on the beach. The three Turkish platoons inflicted 533 casualties on the 950 strong 1st Lancs that day (6 officers and 183 men killed, 4 officers and 279 men wounded, and 61 men missing) That they managed to get off the beach at all is testament to their courage and determination in the face of withering fire from, unexpectedly, an enemy who was handling his defence in a truly professional manner. Together with the attack from the River Clyde, probably the most enduring image of the initial assault is Lancashire Landing in which action the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers won ‘six VC’s before breakfast’ by carrying the enemy trenches despite the intense enemy fire.
All six VC holders were finally gazetted together on 13 March 1917. It is interesting to note that Sgt Grimshaw was previously awarded the DCM for the same action (taken from the London Gazette PRO ZJ1/642)
Page Design by The Gallipoli Association. Content from Chris Staerck.
The following summaries of Gallipoli and the Dardanelles Campaign are from Encyclopedia Brtannica Online.
Gallipoli. Turkish Gelibolu , historically Callipolis seaport and town, European Turkey. It lies on a narrow peninsula where the Dardanelles opens into the Sea of Marmara, 126 miles (203 km) west-southwest of Istanbul. An important Byzantine fortress, it was the first Ottoman conquest (c. 1356) in Europe and was maintained as a naval base because of its strategic importance for the defense of Istanbul. It was also a key transit station on the trade routes from Rumelia (Ottoman possessions in the Balkans) to Anatolia. In World War I , Gallipoli was the scene of determined Turkish resistance to the Allied forces during the Dardanelles Campaign, in which most of the town was destroyed. A storehouse of the Byzantine emperor Justinian (6th century), a 14th-century square castle attributed to the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I, and mounds known as the tombs of Thracian kings still stand. The new town, developed as a fishing and sardine-canning centre, is connected by road and steamer service with Istanbul and is also linked by road with Edirne. Pop. (1990 prelim.) 18,052.
“Gallipoli” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=36595 [Accessed May 24, 2003].
Dardanelles Campaign. Also called Gallipoli Campaign (February 1915 – January 1916), in World War I, an Anglo-French operation against Turkey, intended to force the 38-mile- (61-km-) long Dardanelles channel and to occupy Constantinople. Plans for such a venture were considered by the British authorities between 1904 and 1911, but military and naval opinion was against it. When war between the Allies and Turkey began early in November 1914, the matter was reexamined and classed as a hazardous, but possible, operation.
On January 2, 1915, in response to an appeal by Grand Duke Nicholas, commanding the Russian armies, the British government agreed to stage a demonstration against Turkey to relieve pressure on the Russians on the Caucasus front. The Dardanelles was selected as the place, a combined naval and military operation being strongly supported by the then first lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill . On January 28 the Dardanelles committee decided on an attempt to force the straits by naval action alone, using mostly obsolete warships too old for fleet action. On February 16 this decision was modified, as it was agreed that the shores of the Dardanelles would have to be held if the fleet passed through. For this purpose a large military force under General Sir Ian Hamilton was assembled in Egypt, the French authorities also providing a small contingent. The naval bombardment began on February 16 but was halted by bad weather and not resumed until February 25. Demolition parties of marines landed almost unopposed, but bad weather again intervened. On March 18 the bombardment was continued; however, after three battleships had been sunk and three others damaged, the navy abandoned its attack, concluding that the fleet could not succeed without military help.
Troop transports assembled off the island of Lemnos, and landings began on the Gallipoli Peninsula at two places early on April 25, 1915, at Cape Helles (29th British and Royal Naval divisions) and at ANZAC beaches (Australian and New Zealand troops). A French brigade landed on the Anatolian coast opposite, at Kum Kale, but was later withdrawn. Small beachheads were secured with difficulty, the troops at ANZAC being held up by Turkish reinforcements under the redoubtable Mustafa Kemal, later to became famous as Atatürk. Large British and Dominion reinforcements followed, yet little progress was made. On August 6 another landing on the west coast, at Suvla Bay, took place; after good initial progress the assault was halted.
In May 1915 the first sea lord, Admiral Lord Fisher, had resigned because of differences of opinion over the operation. By September 1915 it was clear that without further large reinforcements there was no hope of decisive results, and the authorities at home decided to recall Hamilton to replace him by Lieutenant General Sir Charles Monro. The latter recommended the withdrawal of the military forces and abandonment of the enterprise, advice that was confirmed in November by the secretary of state for war, Lord Kitchener, when he visited the peninsula. This difficult operation was carried out by stages and was successfully completed early on January 9, 1916.
Altogether, the equivalent of some 16 British, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, and French divisions took part in the campaign. British Commonwealth casualties, apart from heavy losses among old naval ships, were 213,980. The campaign was a success only insofar as it attracted large Turkish forces away from the Russians. The plan failed to produce decisive results because of poor military leadership in some cases, faulty tactics including complete lack of surprise, the inexperience of the troops, inadequate equipment, and an acute shortage of shells.
The campaign had serious political repercussions. It gave the impression throughout the world that the Allies were militarily inept. Before the evacuation had been decided, H.H. Asquith ‘s Liberal administration was superseded by his coalition government. Churchill, the chief protagonist of the venture, resigned from the government and went to command an infantry battalion in France. In the end the campaign hastened Asquith’s resignation, and his replacement as prime minister by David Lloyd George, in December 1916.
“Dardanelles Campaign” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=29224 [Accessed May 24, 2003].
Maps showing the location of Gallipoli and the movements of British forces in the Gallipoli campaign are shown below.
Map showing the British attack on Gallipoli Peninsula. Note that Gallipoli forms the north boundary of the Dardanelles.
Detailed Map showing Allied (British) landings on Gallipoli Peninsula.
W Beach is well described on one of the websites describing the Gallipoli campaign; this description is provided below.
W Beach – ‘Lancashire Landing’ May 2000
W Beach was one of the three allocated to 29th Division on 25th April 1915, and is arguably the most famous of them all. It was here the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers came ashore, and won six VCs before breakfast.
W Beach differed from the other beaches used that day, in that it was almost a cove, with an ark of high ground and a long, open beach. German advisors attached to the Turks had helped in the defence of this position, and redoubts had been placed on the heights with inter-locking fields of fire, wire in the shallow water and mines. They considered it almost impregnable from any sort of landing by small boats.
1st Lancashire Fusiliers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel, came ashore in companies. One came from HMS Implacable, the rest being brought in by naval personnel from HMS Euryalus. One platoon of the Anson Battalion was attached to them, and 1st Essex Regiment was to follow.
About 50 yards from the beach, the boats were unhitched from the tows and they were rowed in. As the boats got nearer to the shore a tremendous fire was laid down by the Turks, causing heavy casualties. Men jumped out into the water, some drowning under the weight of their gear, others getting caught on the wire. Despite this some men beat their way through the wire and assaulted the trenches in the area of the beach itself. Meanwhile a second force had landed a little to the north and found part of the beach here sheltered from the devastating fire. Captain Thomas Frankland then took his men forward to the Turkish positions here, and this flank was eliminated.
Friendly fire from Euryalus had knocked out one part of LFs which had got ashore, but another group had fought their way through the defences and met up with the 2nd Royal Fusiliers on Hill 114. The beach was now carried, and a line established inland. Late in the afternoon the Anson platoon and 1st Essex landed to reinforce the dilapidated ranks of 1st LFs.
Because of the gallantry of the battalion here on 25th April, W Beach was renamed Lancashire Landing in their honour, and was thereafter referred to by this name. Much later a ballot took place for gallantry awards, and six men were awarded the Victoria Cross:
Captain Cuthbert Bromley
Corporal John Grimshaw
Private William Kenealy
Sergeant Alfred Richards
Sergeant Frank Stubbs
Captain Richard Willis
Following the initial landings, Lancashire Landing was turned into a small port with piers going out to receive boats travelling to and from the fleet. Troops for the Helles front were brought in here, as were supplies and equipment. Wounded were taken out from the beach, and there were several Advanced Dressing Stations nearby. The banks of the cliffs were terraced, and there were command centres and dugouts here. It was used until the evacuation on 9th January 1916.
W Beach Today
For many years it was impossible to visit W Beach as it was part of a local Turkish military base. This was closed in the 1990s, and there is no problem with access now. To reach it from Seddul Bahir follow the signs for LancashireLandingCemetery, and at a fork in the road, go left (the cemetery is right). Follow this downhill, passing the remains of the barrier gate to the camp and an ancient civil cemetery. The road is poor, and although you can normally drive almost to the beach, in certain weather conditions this may be difficult. The track is also bordered by sharp bushes which can scratch your hire-car, as we found out! At the beach, park in the area just before the sand starts and you wont block anyone elses access.
You can walk around the beach here. There are the remains of at least one pier, trenches are visible and caves used as shelters can also be entered. It is clear what an advantage the defenders had when you view the ground from one of the bluffs.
1Fairhurst, James, The Victoria Cross: Past Forward, Issue 31, Summer 2002, p. 8 (published by the Wigan Heritage Service).
Webpage posted February 2004. Updated March 2006 with addition of photo and military service description from Find-a-Grave website. Updated April 2006 with account provided by Martin Grimshaw. Updated December 2006 with addition of information and photos on Grimshaw Lake in Australia. Updated March 2007 with addition of family history piece by David Garrett from Mary Sayers and with addition of 1965 photo of John E Grimshaw, and information on Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw. Updated November 2007 with information on sibling James. Updated May 2008 with descendant information from Joan (Grimshaw) Ure. Updated May 2010 with addition of photos and information from Vera Carter. Updated January 2011 with more photos from Vera Carter. Updated March 2011 with photos from Facebook by “Kooter Sgirl” and Greg Grimshaw; also considerable reorganization of the webpage.