Major-General Harry Grimshaw

Career British Military Officer Born in India

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Major-General Harry Grimshaw

Last Updated: 1:40am GMT 19/11/2007

Major-General Harry Grimshaw, who has died aged 96, won a DSO in Burma and saw repeated front-line service in a career which ranged from the North West Frontier of India in 1932 to the Eoka operation in Cyprus in 1956.

Grimshaw: relished big-game shooting during pre-war service in India

Grimshaw accompanied 161 Indian Infantry (Mechanised) Brigade (161B), part of 5th Indian Division, to Burma in 1943 and fought in the first successful operations against the Japanese in the Arakan. Hurriedly withdrawn from the front line, the brigade was flown to Dimapur on the northern front and held the Japanese at Kohima.

During the siege, Grimshaw took command of 1st Battalion 1 Punjab Regiment (1/1PR) and they played a notable part in the fighting and in the pursuit of the Japanese 33rd Division in monsoon weather through the wild country to the Chindwin river. Awarded a DSO and promoted in the field by General Sir William Slim, he returned to 161B for the final advance to Rangoon. At the age of 33 he was one of the youngest brigade commanders.

Ewing Henry Wrigley Grimshaw (always known as Harry) was born on June 30 1911 in India, where his father was serving with 1PR, and was educated at Brighton College and Sandhurst.

He was commissioned into his father’s regiment in 1931 and up to the outbreak of the Second World War saw service in the tribal territories of the North West Frontier and later against terrorists in Bengal. He loved this period of his service when he was able to indulge his passion for fishing and big-game shooting in the Himalayas.

In 1939 Grimshaw rejoined 1/1PR as adjutant and moved with the battalion to Iraq and then to Libya. Following the withdrawal to Gazala in 1941, his battalion transferred to 161 B and, after the final battle of El Alamein, he went to Burma with the brigade.

After the Japanese surrender, Grimshaw accompanied the brigade to Java where trouble had broken out at Surabaya but he returned to India in 1946 and the next year went home to Ireland. He had had almost nine years’ continuous service overseas.

When India gained its independence, Grimshaw transferred to The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and went with them to Malaya at the beginning of the campaign against the terrorists. In 1952 he commanded their 1st Battalion in the Canal Zone before taking them to Kenya to help put down the Mau Mau insurrection.

In February 1954 a large terrorist gang entered the Fort Hall area where the battalion was stationed. Grimshaw ordered his men to engage and pursue them and through his skilful control of the operation and the tenacity of his men, contact with the fugitives was maintained and the terrorists were virtually exterminated.

A fortnight later, when a district officer was ambushed and killed near Battalion HQ, Grimshaw and three soldiers rushed to the scene to find a police inspector surrounded by insurgents and fire coming from the Home Guard post which they had captured. Armed only with a revolver, Grimshaw led a spirited four-man charge up the hill whereupon the terrorists, some 20 in number and well-armed, took to their heels. Grimshaw was appointed OBE.

His next posting was to Northern Ireland as Chief of Staff but his tour was interrupted by the Suez crisis in 1956. At four days notice he took command of 19 Infantry Brigade, part of 3 Division, brought his battalions to battle-readiness and took them to Suez.

He was the last British soldier to leave Port Said after handing over to the UN Force Commander. He was awarded a CBE for his part in the operation.

In 1958 Grimshaw took his brigade to Cyprus, where it was deployed in the Limasol area in the hunt for the terrorist leader General Grivas. His final staff appointment was as Deputy Director of Movements at the War Office.

In 1962 he became GOC 44 Division (TA) and Home Counties District; and he was appointed Deputy Chief Constable of Dover Castle, a post in which he served under Sir Winston Churchill.

He was Colonel of The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers from 1966 to 1968. In the latter year, when the Irish regiments amalgamated, he became Deputy Colonel of the Royal Irish Rangers.

He was appointed CB in 1965.

Harry Grimshaw died on November 1. He married, in 1943, Hilda Allison, who died in 1993. He is survived by a son and a daughter; his elder son, Colonel Ewing Grimshaw, died in 1996.

The Times (Times Online)


From The Times

November 26, 2007

Major-General Harry Grimshaw

Indian Army officer who served at Alamein, Kohima and, after Partition, in the Malayan emergency and against the Mau Mau

Through shortage of vacancies as the Army was reduced in size, relatively few Indian Army officers were able to transfer to British infantry regiments on Partition in 1947. Harry Grimshaw was on leave in Coleraine when he heard that he was one of the few and, despite descent from brigadier to major, happily left for the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers depot at Omagh and then to join the 1st Battalion in Hong Kong.

Ewing Henry Wrigley Grimshaw was born in India, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel E.W. Grimshaw of the 1st Punjab Regiment. He was educated at Brighton College, won an Indian Army cadetship to Sandhurst and joined his father’s old regiment in 1931. The North West Frontier was the place to establish a reputation, and he spent much time there on secondment to local units until the outbreak of war, when he rejoined 1st Battalion 1st Punjabis as adjutant.

His battalion served with the 10th Indian Division in Iraq, where his father had been killed commanding 1/1st Punjabis in the Mesopotamian campaign against the Turks in 1916, when Claude Auchinleck had been adjutant. After the pro Axis Baghdad Government had fallen, 10th Indian Division remained in case of a German invasion from the Caucasus, but the 1/1st Punjabis went to the Western Desert to join the 4th Indian Division.

They fought in the ill-starred Operation Crusader, which ended with the 8th Army facing the Afrika Korps at Gazala in December 1941. Rommel’s January 1942 offensive found the 4th Indian Division widely stretched covering the port of Benghazi, soon to be abandoned. Worse followed with the confused Gazala battle in June and the 8th Army’s withdrawal to the Egyptian frontier.

1/1st Punjabis were converted to lorry-borne infantry with the 161 Indian (Mechanised) brigade in time for the battle of Alamein in late October, but Grimshaw was withdrawn as the pursuit phase began and sent to Haifa to attend the short wartime course at the Staff College. Six months later he went as Brigade Major of 161 Brigade, by then under orders for Burma.

His first campaign against the Japanese was the clearing of Arakan in preparation for the 14th Army’s intended offensive into central Burma. The spoiling offensive by the Japanese into the Imphal plain in March 1944, in particular the investment of Kohima, led to 161 Brigade being flown from Arakan to stabilise the situation. During the ensuing struggle to drive the enemy off the dominating Kohima ridge, Grimshaw took command of 1/1st Punjabis in the brigade’s two week slogging match with the 3rd Japanese Division until relieved by the British 2nd Division.

The citation for Grimshaw’s DSO read: “During the period mid-May until mid-August, 1/1st Punjab Regiment took a leading part in the fighting in and around Kohima, the turning movement on the Jessami and Kharasom tracks that caused the enemy’s withdrawal from the Kohima-Imphal road, the clearing of the Silchar track and pursuit of the Japanese 33rd Division down the Tiddim Road. The dash, gallantry and determination shown by the battalion were due in large measure to Lieutenant-Colonel Grimshaw’s skilful and inspiring leadership.”

After 1/1st Punjabis had been sent to the 19th Indian Division for the crossing of the Irrawaddy, Grimshaw was recalled to take command of 161 Brigade for the march on Rangoon. At 32 he was one of the youngest brigade commanders in the field, and his brigade took part in the relief of Singapore. No sooner was that over than he was dispatched to Sourabaya, where Javanese nationalists were holding hostage many thousands of European ex-prisoners of the Japanese, against Dutch acceptance of their independence.

Grimshaw faced an uncertain future as the Indian Army was turned over to the new Indian and Pakistani governments in 1947. But old loyalties came into play. Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck was Colonel of both the 1st Punjabis and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and he did not wish to lose such a talented officer. After Hong Kong, Grimshaw was second-in-command of 1st Inniskillings in Malaya in the early stages of the communist insurrection in 1948, then returned in 1951 on the staff.

Appointed to command 1st Inniskillings in Egypt in 1952, he took them to Kenya after the outbreak of the Mau Mau terrorist campaign. In consequence of an action on March 5, in which he reacted immediately to the murder of a local district officer, he was appointed OBE for brave conduct. On arrival at the scene accompanied only by his three-man escort he found a British police inspector surrounded by about 20 Mau Mau. Armed only with his revolver he led his escort in a spirited charge, putting the enemy to flight.

On relinquishing command of his battalion, Grimshaw was appointed Chief of Staff at Headquarters Northern Ireland. This was a period when the original IRA surfaced from its internal dialectic only occasionally to make an arms raid or plant a bomb.

The Suez crisis of 1956 changed this for Grimshaw who was promoted to command 19 Brigade in the 3rd Division, on notice for the eastern Mediterranean. The operation posed many difficulties, not least handling the army reservists recalled from their jobs and homes in a cause opposed by large sections of the population. He kept up the spirits of his brigade throughout, however, and was advanced to CBE.

In 1958 he returned to the Mediterranean to command his brigade in the Limassol area during the Eoka terrorist campaign in Cyprus. After attending the Imperial Defence College course in 1959, he served for the first time in the War Office as Deputy Director of Movements until promoted major general to command 44th Division of the Territorial Army. The Divisional headquarters was at Dover, allowing him to combine his command with the ceremonial duties of Deputy Constable Dover Castle.

He was appointed CB on leaving the Army in 1965 and Colonel of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1966. After the amalgamation of the three Irish infantry of the Line regiments, he was Deputy Colonel of the Royal Irish Rangers from 1968 until 1973.

He married Hilda, daughter of Dr Robert Allison of Coleraine, in 1943. She predeceased him, as did his elder son who served in the Royal Irish Rangers. He is survived by his daughter and younger son, who served in the Irish Guards.

Major-General Harry Grimshaw, CB, CBE, DSO, GOC 44th Division, 1962-65, was born on June 30, 1911. He died on November 1, 2007, aged 96

India Gazette


Grimshaw, hero of battle of Kohima, passes away

India Gazette

Monday 19th November, 2007


Major-General Harry Grimshaw, who was born in India and played a key role in the battle of Kohima during the Second World War, has died at the age of 96.

Grimshaw saw front-line during a career which ranged from the North West Frontier of India in 1932 to the Eoka operation in Cyprus in 1956. He accompanied 161 Indian Infantry (Mechanised) Brigade (161B), part of 5th Indian Division, to Burma in 1943 and fought in the first successful operations against the Japanese in the Arakan.

Hurriedly withdrawn from the front line, the brigade was flown to Dimapur on the northern front and held the Japanese at Kohima. During the siege, Grimshaw took command of 1st Battalion 1 Punjab Regiment (1/1PR).

The battalion played a notable part in the fighting and in the pursuit of the Japanese 33rd Division in monsoon weather through the wild country to the Chindwin river, according to Grimshaw’s obituary in the Daily Telegraph.

At the age of 33 he was one of the youngest brigade commanders. Grimshaw was born in India, where his father was serving with 1 Punjab Regiment, and was educated at Brighton College and Sandhurst.

He was commissioned into his father’s regiment in 1931 and up to the outbreak of the Second World War saw service in the tribal territories of the North West Frontier and later in Bengal.

He reportedly loved this period of his service when he was able to indulge his passion for fishing and big-game shooting in the Himalayas. In 1939 Grimshaw rejoined 1/1Punjab Regiment as adjutant and moved with the battalion to Iraq and then to Libya.

After the Japanese surrender, Grimshaw accompanied the brigade to Java where trouble had broken out at Surabaya but he returned to India in 1946 and the next year went home to Ireland.

When India gained its independence, Grimshaw transferred to The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and went with them to then Malaya.

Grandson of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw

As described on a companion webpage

Harry Grimshaw was the son of Ewing Wrigley Grimshaw.

Thomas and Settie had a total of 12 children, as shown below. A family photo is shown below. Settie lived to the remarkable age of 102, and died in England in 1945.

Temple Thomas Wrigley (1866-1872)

Ewing Wrigley (1867-1916)

Violet Settie (1869-1874)

Ernest Felix Wrigley (Ernie) (1870-1941)

Harold Wrigley (1872-1873)

Herbert Churchill Wrigley (Bertie) (1874-1926)

Cecil Thomas Wrigley (1875-1915)

Cyril Nicholas Wrigley (1877-1951)

Roland William Wrigley (Roly) (1880-1933)

Emma Alice Anne (1882-1942)

Gladys Constance (1883-1944)

Clayton Herman Wrigley (1885-1937)

Family photo of Thomas and his family. From left to right, the family members are: Cyril, Ernest, Emma, Roland (above), Clayton (below), Cecil (above), Sarah Elizabeth (Settie), Thomas Wrigley, Gladys, Herbert (Bertie), and Ewing. Judging from the apparent ages of the children, photo taken about 1888. Photo courtesy of Dick Grimshaw.

Ewing (“Harry”) Grimshaw’s Coat of Arms

As described on a companion webpage

According to Hilary Tulloch, the only Grimshaw arms that are still current (i.e., approved by the College of Arms) is that of her father, Ewing Grimshaw (see table below.)

 3.2Grants 124/309:
A Grant of Armorial Bearings dated 9th March 1962 and made to “EWING HENRY WRIGLEY GRIMSHAW of The Trellis House in the Parish of Copford in the County of Essex, Esquire ” CBE, DSO, Major General, General Officer commanding 44th (Home Counties) Division/District, Lieutenant and Deputy Constable of Dover Castle, Kent, The Arms granted were to be born by him and his descendants and there is an exemplification of the Arms, Crest and Motto, the blazons of which read as follows:


“Per fess Azure and Argent a Griffin segreant Sable armed bearded crowned with a Saxon Crown and holding in the dexter forefoot a Grenade Or fired proper “Crest:

On a Wreath (Argent and Azure) “A Griffin as in the Arms standing within the Battlements of a Castle proper”



Hilary has graciously provided the image below as a representative of (not the official rendition) Ewing Grimshaw’s arms.

Representative image (not the College-of-Arms approved version) of Ewing Grimshaw’s Arms

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