Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 3, 1887
Place of BirthElgin, Morayshire
CountryScotland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Elsie Grant, Elgin, Scotland. Also John Grant, Levis, Quebec (relationship not stated).
Trade / CallingFireman
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number429026
Service RecordLink to Service Record
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force (Siberia)
BranchHeadquarters Sub-Staff
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentNew Westminster, British Columbia
Age at Enlistment27
Theatre of ServiceEurope and Siberia
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death01/03/1961
Age at Death73

Grant, John

Lance Corporal John Grant enlisted with the 47th Battalion in March 1915 and he was seriously wounded six months later in Belgium. After recovering he served in Great Britain, France and Siberia, returning to Canada in June 1919.

John was born on 3 May 1887 in Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland, the youngest son of William Grant and Elsie Humphrey (see note below). William and Elsie were married in 1881 and they had at least two other sons, Robert and William, and two daughters, Catherine and Jessie. William was a plasterer by trade and the family was in Elgin for both the 1891 and 1901 censuses. By the time the war started John and his brother William had immigrated to Canada and they were living in the New Westminster area in British Columbia.

John enlisted in New Westminster on 12 March 1915, joining the 47th (British Columbia) Battalion. He was 27 years old, 5’5″ tall with blue eyes and brown hair and he was working as a locomotive fireman at the time. He said he had previously served with a militia unit, the 72nd Regiment (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada). For next of kin he listed his mother Mrs. Elsie Grant in Elgin, Scotland and also John Grant of Levis, Quebec (relationship not stated).

While John’s battalion was training the Canadians were fighting in France and Belgium. Recruits were needed to replace casualties in the front line combat units and battalions in Canada were asked to send reinforcements. John was sent to England with the 1st Reinforcing Draft. He embarked from Montreal on 17 June on the SS Scandinavian and arrived in England about ten days later. At the end of the month he was transferred to the 30th Reserve Battalion. He trained with them for about two months before being drafted to the 7th Battalion and sent to France, arriving there in late August. He joined his new unit in the field a few days later.

The 7th Battalion was in Belgium at the time, near Ploegsteert, where the Canadians were holding a section of the front line. In September the 7th Battalion had three rotations in the trenches and German artillery was very active towards the end of the month. John was wounded on 27 September when a shell exploded near him. He was hit in the face, arm and leg, with the most serious injuries being to his eyes. He was evacuated to No. 13 Stationary Hospital in Boulogne and from there to England. On 29 September he was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital in Wandsworth, where pieces of shell were removed from his left eye. His right eye could not be saved and it had to be surgically removed.

In mid-November John was transferred to the military hospital at Shorncliffe and a month later he was sent to West Cliff (Westcliffe) Canadian Eye and Ear Hospital in Folkstone, Kent. While he was there he was fitted for an artificial eye and in January 1916 he was discharged to base duty. Over the next twenty months he served in England with several different units including the 30th Reserve Battalion, two brigade training depots, the BC Regiment Depot and the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre. In October 1917 he was sent to France in order to serve with the 4th Labour Battalion but three weeks later he was returned to England and posted to the Quebec Regiment Depot.

In February 1918 John was transferred to Headquarters Sub-Staff at Bramshott to serve as a batman. Later that same year the Allies began to organize an international force to send to Vladivostok, Siberia. Their goals included support and training for anti-Bolshevik forces and protecting stockpiles of Russian weapons and supplies to keep them from falling into the hands of the Bolsheviks. In August John was put on command to the headquarters of the Siberian Force in London. In September he was assigned to the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Siberia) and sent to Canada.

John embarked from Vancouver with the headquarters staff of the CEFS on 11 October 1918 on the SS Empress of Japan. He arrived in Vladivostok about two weeks later. On 13 November he was appointed Lance Corporal and he served in Siberia for seven months. In March 1919 it was decided to disband the CEFS and send the troops home over the next few months. John sailed for Canada on the SS Monteagle on 5 June. He was discharged on 4 July in Vancouver, listed as medically unfit for further service due to the loss of one eye and impaired vision in the other. His intended address was East Burnaby, BC.

Little is known of John’s life after the war. His brother William married and raised his family in the Burnaby area and John also spent some time living in British Columbia. In the fall of 1929 John was in Kenora, Ontario, where he joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion. His death date is recorded both in his service file and on his veteran death card. He died in Withington Hospital, West Didsbury, Manchester, England on 1 March 1961, at age 73.   He was survived by his common-law wife Annie Grant of Manchester and his brother William in BC. William passed away in New Westminster in July 1981, at age 96.

Note: John’s attestation records his birth as 16 August 1887 in Fraserville, Quebec. His service file records his birth as 3 May in Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland. There is a Scottish birth registration for John Grant born in Elgin on 3 May 1887, parents William Grant and Elsie (née Humphrey). John listed his mother Mrs. Elsie Grant of Elgin as next of kin so this appears to be the correct John Grant.

By Becky Johnson

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