9 May 2010

GROVER Victor Henry


Private 10253, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards
Killed in Action on Thursday 29th October 1914
Commemorated: Ypres Memorial, Menin Gate, Ieper, Panel 11

Victor Grover was born on the 5th May 1896, the eldest child of Frederick Grover, a labourer, and his wife Ada. By the time of the 1911 census the family were living at 10 Down Terrace [Downview Terrace], Ham Road, Lancing. Frederick Grover was a self-employed nurseryman, and Victor a garden labourer; there was also one daughter, Doris, a year younger than Victor.

Victor enlisted into the Coldstream Guards at Worthing on July 24th 1913, adding a year to his true age and stating that he was eighteen years and two months old. Another Lancing boy, Reginald Lisher, has a service number consecutive to that of Victor, and it seemed likely that they enlisted together, but the records now show that Reginald had joined five days previously in Brighton - perhaps his decision influenced Victor into accompanying him on life's great adventure, but sadly one that would see them both dead before the end of 1914. A year later the Coldstream Guards, as part of 1st (Guards) Brigade, 1st Division, were among the first British soldiers to enter France, and his battalion arrived there on the 14th August 1914 - these were the men of the British Expeditionary Force who became known as the 'Old Contemptibles.' It's likely that Victor Grover saw much action and suffered much hardship during those first few months of war as the battalion advanced, fought, retreated, marched endlessly and advanced again. His friend Reg Lisher died early on, in September 1914, and the two eighteen-year-olds must have been friends from childhood. On the 27th October 1914 the battalion arrived at Gheluvelt, south-east of Ypres. The battalion war diary of the 1st Coldstream Guards is brief and lack detail, but the entry for the day of Victor Grover's death is as follows:

October 29th 1914 - GHELUVELT
An attack by the Germans of which notice was received was beaten off at 5.30 a.m. in dense mist but was successful further S. at crossroads E.S.E. of GHELUVELT; the result being that the battalion trenches were almost immediately afterwards attacked from the right rear. A retirment appears to have been ordered and a small portion of the battalion re-formed covering a battery of the Royal Field Artillery. At night the battalion was withdrawn and bivouacked in woods W. of GHELUVELT in Brigade Reserve.

The diary is unclear on the number of casualties, with no mention of NCOs and other ranks, but among the dead was the Commanding Officer, Major The Hon. Leslie D'Henin Hamilton, MVO. However, an official history of the battalion is more explicit:

On August Bank Holiday 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany and the Coldstream were immediately involved. The 1st Battalion, as part of 1st Guards Brigade, and the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, as part of 4th Guards Brigade, all moved to France immediately. The Regiment suffered heavily throughout the War; on 29th October 1914, at Gheluvelt, for example, the 1st Battalion suffered such casualties that it had no officers left and only 80 men. Four days later, after reinforcement, it had once more been reduced to no officers and 120 men only.

Victor Grover has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, which commemorates more than 54,000 officers and men whose final resting place is unknown.


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