Geoffrey Alexander Gravenor, Distinguished Conduct Medal & Croix De Guerre
Company Sergeant Major (290013) Geoffery Alexander Gravenor was born in Tredegar on 9 November 1877 and was 42 years old when he died on Thursday 15 January 1920 and is buried at Cefn Golau, Cemetery, Tredegar, grave ref. V. 15. 324.
Geoffrey Alexander Gravenor D.C.M. & C. De G; formerly C Company, 3rd Battallion Monmouthshire Regiment, Company Sergeant Major, service no: 290013.
Born 9 November 1877 to parents, Llewellyn and Mary Ann Gravenor, he was employed as an Inspector for the Shops Act for Tredegar & Ebbw Vale.
He married Mary McCrink on 8 August 1918 at Oswestry Roman Catholic Church; at this time, Geoffrey was a Sergeant Major in the 3rd Mons Regiment and he was residing at Kinmel Park, Rhyl. After marriage, twins Geoffrey John Eugene and Mary Gertrude Beatrice were born at 1 Hill View, Tredegar on 15 June 1919; Mary was the eldest by 30 minutes.
The 1881 census shows him to be 3 years old and living at the Freemason’s Arms Inn, The Circle, Tredegar where his father was the innkeeper. By the 1891 census his father had died and he was living at Somerset Villa, Park Place, Tredegar and was 13 years old. The 1901 census shows him living at 6 Bridge Street, Tredegar where his mother was a confectionery shopkeeper and Geoffrey was also employed in the business; he was 23 years old. By the time of the 1911 census Geoffrey lived at Bridge Street and was employed by his mother as a baker and pantry cook; he was then 33 years old and a bachelor. He was one of seven children born to Mary Ann, his mother.
The Distinguished Conduct Medal or D.C.M. was awarded to Geoffrey Gravenor for gallantry in the field in the face of the enemy. The citation from the London Gazette dated 14 January 1916 read, “For conspicuous gallantry when sent up with a half company to reinforce another regiment he came under heavy rifle fire, which killed and wounded several of his party, he himself being wounded. The company began to fall back but he limped after his men, rallied them and although wounded in the leg led them to the advanced trench where he remained in command of it until he was carried back to dressing station”. Awarded D.C.M & Croix De Guerre for gallantry at Frezenberg Ridge, Ypres, on 5 May 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres when his battalion (3rd Monmouthshires) suffered horrendous losses.
Merthyr Express, 21 August 1915:
Sergeant Major Gravenor, of the 3rd Monmouthshires, who has been wounded and in hospital for some months, returned home on Wednesday, receiving a very enthusiastic welcome from his many friends. The Sergeant Major is very popular. His racy sketches of life in the trenches published in these columns recently will be remembered by our readers.
Merthyr Express, 11 September 1915:
Captain Steel’s Praise for Tredegar Territorial’s
Touching Scenes in the Town
Pathetic scenes were witnessed at the Drill Hall, Tredegar on Tuesday afternoon, when Captain O W D Steel, who is in command of the Tredegar Territorial’s at the Front met the relatives of the men who have been killed in action or who are missing.
Captain Steel, who is home on sick leave and who is about to return to the Front, was accompanied by his wife and Colonel W D Steel and Mrs Steel. There was also present Major R H Spencer V D, Messrs T Jones, T M Williams J P, W Bosley, T Jackson, J B Angus, A E Coombs, Dr. E T H Davies and Sergeant Major G A Gravenor, who is home wounded.
Captain Steel had a private conversation with the relatives present and gave them all the information he had concerning their husbands, brothers and sons. The gallant officer spoke words of consolation to each of them. During the interviews many touching and pathetic scenes were witnessed and all present were deeply affected. One lady hearing that Captain Steel was visiting Tredegar, came from Nantyglo in the hope of hearing some tidings of her husband. She was sympathetically received by the officer, who gave her the desired information. Tea was provided for those who attended.
Merthyr Express, 22 January 1916:
Tredegar is proud of its heroes, who have been awarded the D C M and will do them full honour when they return home, for they have not only won renown for themselves but it reflects upon the town also. I know Sergeant Major G A Gravenor and Sergeant C Butler intimately and both are modest to a degree, as are all heroes. I know their positions on the football field before the outbreak of war, having seen both men many times throwing themselves in front of a rushing pack of forwards, with daring recklessness. A football match of course, is but a picnic to a bloody battlefield gives one a peep into the lion hearts of these men. All honour to Tredegar’s two D C M s, may there be many more before peace is signed. I am sure many more will deserve it.
Tredegar’ roll of honour amounts to almost eighty. It is a pathetic list, containing as it does the names of many of the brightest and best of the young men of the town. But the sorrow and pain caused by such a long list are swallowed up by the feeling of pride aroused by the noble sacrifice made by these young heroes. Their names will live forever in the history of the British Empire and is enshrined in the hearts of the nation. This though will be some consolation to those who have lost their dear ones in this cruel war.
Two New D C M’s
Fine Distinction for the Town
The interesting news that two Tredegar men had gained the D C M was received in the town with great rejoicing. They are Sergeant Major G A Gravenor of the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment and Sergeant C Butler of the railway section of the Royal Monmouthshire Regiment, both of whom are well-known in the town.
Sergeant Major Gravenor comes of a volunteer family, several members of which have played a prominent part in the movement. A relative of Mrs Gravenor, mother of the new D C M – was one of the founders of the original volunteer corps started in the town, while the Sergeant Major’s father the late Mr L Gravenor was a non-commissioned officer in the local corps for many years. He also has two brothers who have served for years in the ranks of our home soldiers. Mr Ralph Gravenor was one of the first of the local volunteers to offer his services in the South African War, and was accepted. In that campaign he was connected with the Army Medical Corps. Another brother Sergeant Llewellyn Gravenor went out with the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment last year to France, and with his regiment went through some terrific fighting, being wounded and gassed the same day as his brother, Sergeant Major Gravenor.
The new D C M, who is the third son of the late Mr Llewellyn Gravenor and Mrs Gravenor, “Xavier”, Tredegar, has been one of the mainstays of the local volunteer and Territorial Company for many years, and has always played a very enthusiastic part in the corps. For several years he acted as secretary of the Regimental Sergeant’s Mess at headquarters, in which capacity he gave the greatest satisfaction by his business methods and general bearing. He was one of the sergeants who went to Buckingham Palace some years ago to receive colours from the King for the regiment. Since the mobilisation of the Territorial’s, he has been promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major, and was offered a commission but declined it.
Sergeant Gravenor is a well-known sportsman. He played for Tredegar Rugby Football Club in its halcyon days – the days when great battles were fought with Ebbw Vale, Pill Harriers, Pontypool, Abertillery and other noted Monmouthshire League teams, and it is quite reasonable to suppose that the fine training and experience he received in these thrilling encounters qualified him for daring decisions on the fields of Flanders. He was a dashing forward, especially skilful in open play, fearless and consistent. He captained the team in one or two of its successful seasons, proving an ideal leader of men. A crack rifle shot, he is the proud owner of many trophies, including the championship trophy of the regiment and of the Company. It was during the terrible days of May last year, when the 3rd Mons went through a fiery ordeal and many men fell never to rise again, that Sergeant Major Gravenor with many others were wounded and gassed. The Sergeant Major was wounded in both legs, but seeing that his detachment of the regiment was in a perilous position he crawled to where they were under a hail of bullets and bursting shells, rallied them and got them out of danger. Directly afterwards a German shell completely shattered the position they had taken up, so by the bravery of Sergeant Major Gravenor they were saved. His gallant conduct was witnessed by the commanding officer of another regiment, and he reported the action. Sergeant Major Gravenor is a typical soldier, and a useful citizen, and the honour conferred upon him is an honour to the town of which he is a native.
Merthyr Express, 18 March 1916:
Presentation to Tredegar D C M
A very impressive ceremony was performed at Oswestry on Monday. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Monmouthshire men, who had fought in France, were paraded under their officers to witness Colonel H Worsley Gough, C B, pin the D C M on the breast of Sergeant Major G A Gravenor of the 1st-3rd Monmouthshire’s. It will be remembered that Colonel Gough was the officer who took the 3rd Monmouthshire’s out to France and was himself wounded about the same time as Sergeant Major Gravenor, and it was at his request that Sergeant Major Gravenor should receive it from his hands. The ceremony was befittingly brief. The gallant Colonel who has gained the C B E recently for his services with the 3rd Mons, in particular, said it was a pleasure to him to have the honour that day of pinning the D C M, which had been awarded by his Majesty the King on the breast of one who had shown conspicuous bravery in the face of the enemy; one who had helped to maintain the glorious traditions of the British Army, and incidentally the men of Monmouthshire. He referred to the fact that he had heard that day that the President of the French Republic had also bestowed on Sergeant Major Gravenor the highest distinction France gives to her sons for bravery on the field. He referred to the Croix de Guerre, which Sergeant Major Gravenor would in due course receive, and mentioned that the sergeant major was in good company, as General French had also been awarded the Croix de Guerre, he heading the same list that included the sergeant major’s name. The Colonel then pinned the medal and shook hands with the sergeant major, with final words of congratulations.
Merthyr Express, 13 May 1916:
Gallant Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major G A Gravenor, D C M and the proud holder of the French Croix de Guerre, paid a visit to his home this weekend, and looked extremely well. He is still suffering to some extent from the wounds sustained in his leg, during the great battles in which the 3rd Mon’s played such an important part. The Sergeant Major is now engaged on home duties, somewhere in England. Although he has not been formerly decorated with the Croix de Guerre, he proudly wears the bar, together with that of the D C M and the old Volunteers bar.
Merthyr Express, 20 May 1916:
Sergeant Major G A Gravenor was on Monday decorated with the Croix de Guerre, awarded him for conspicuous gallantry at the Front by the French Government. The coveted decoration was pinned on his breast by Sir William Pitcarn Campbell, the general officer commanding the Division, at a parade specially ordered for the ceremony. Colonel W D Steel V D, who recently visited the camp, expressed to Sergeant Major Gravenor the great pride he felt at such a honour being conferred upon him. It will be remembered that the gallant Sergeant Major has also been the recipient of the D C M for bravery. He has been unanimously elected president of the mess. The many friends of Sergeant Major Gravenor at Tredegar rejoice at the honours conferred upon him.
Merthyr Express, 9 September 1916:
The amalgamation of the Monmouthshire Regiments has resulted in the severing of many close friendships. At Oswestry recently a farewell meeting was held, on the disbanding of the mess of the 3rd Monmouthshire’s. The gathering was not without its sadness, for many close bonds had to be broken. The event took the form of a farewell concert. Company Sergeant Major Gravenor, D C M, proposed the toast of officers of the regiment in his usual racy style and gave some interesting reminiscences relating to the Mess. The toast was received with the greatest enthusiasm. Songs, recitations and speeches were contributed by Sergeant French, Rifleman Everson, Sergeant Richards, R S M Coulson, C S M Gravenor, Sergeant Hyde, Sergeant Williams, Sergeant Restall, Rifleman Vernon, Sergeant Drummer Hookham and Sergeant Watkins. The toast of the “Sergeant’s Mess, 3rd Monmouthshire’s” was submitted by C S M Walsh and appropriately honoured. A very enjoyable evening was spent by the company.
Merthyr Express, 3 November 1917:
Where our Heroes Lie
Sergeant Major G A Gravenor D C M, Croix de Guerre, has obtained a sketch of the cross erected somewhere in France to the memory of the gallant 3rd Monmouth’s, who fell in battle on 29 December 1915. The original cross was destroyed by a German shell and the present memorial is a new one. There are 41 names of non-commissioned officers and men inscribed, the grave has been done up and is now in a good condition. In the square around the cross, crocuses, kindly supplied by Captain L D Whitehead have been planted. The names of the heroes inscribed are as follows:-
Lance Sergeant Plumer, Corporal Needham, Lance Corporal O’Rourke, Lance Corporal Denford, Lance Corporal Lewis, Privates Coleman, Price, Callaghan, Onions, T Williams, Sales, Williams, Webber, Morgan, Pugh, Brown, Day, Hughes, Lance Sergeant Watkins, Corporal Williams, Lance Corporal Baker, Lance Corporal W J Jones, Lance Corporal Harris, Privates Lloyd, Moore, Nash, Probert, Poore, Rogers, Thomas, W Lyne, H Taylor, Morgan, S A Day, W Morgan, G S Davies, Lance Sergeant Preen, Lance Corporal Yandle, Sergeant Snell, Private Payne and Private Griffiths. This information will we are sure, afford comfort to the relatives and their thanks are due to Sergeant Major Gravenor, for the interest he has taken.
Merthyr Express, 22 March 1919:
Death of Mrs Gravenor
We regret to announce the death at the age of 73 of Mrs A Gravenor, “Xavier”, Hill View, Tredegar, widow of the late Llewellyn P Gravenor, a well-known resident of the town, who died in 1887. The deceased lady had been in indifferent health for a considerable time and passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning. Mrs Gravenor who was of a very retiring disposition, and wholly devoted to her home and family, was the daughter of the late Mr J Prosser Williams, who carried on business as a chemist in the town for many years. She was a staunch church-woman. She leaves four sons – Mr Percy A Gravenor, (Bridgewater); Sergeant Major Llewellyn Gravenor, now with the army of occupation in Germany; Sergeant Major Geoffrey A Gravenor, D C M, Croix de Guerre and Mr Ralph Gravenor both of Tredegar and four daughters – Mrs Law (London), Mrs Roderick (Tredegar), Miss Gravenor and Mrs F Morley Vaughan (New Tredegar).
The report of the Joint Shops Act Committee held on the 12th inst, reported that the Ebbw Vale representative again raised the question of Tredegar and Bedwellty Councils having sufficient work to engage Mr G A Gravenor, and thus relieve Ebbw Vale from their obligation, as they had engaged a person to devote his whole time to the work of shops inspector and executive officer of the local Food Control Committee in the Ebbw Vale district. Councillor Bennett stated that Ebbw Vale was still prepared to carry out their obligations in connection with Mr Gravenor’s appointment, but did not wish to dispense with the services of their temporary inspector only to find later on that the work of the three districts was more than could be carried out by one inspector. After discussion it was resolved that Mr Gravenor continue to carry out his duties for the three councils, but that Bedwellty and Tredegar Councils respectively consider the point raised by Ebbw Vale.
Merthyr Express, 24 January 1920:
Death of a Tredegar Hero
Sergeant Major G A Gravenor D C M
It is with the deepest regret that we announce the death of Regimental Sergeant Major G A Gravenor, D C M. Croix de Guerre, of the 3rd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment (Territorial’s), which took place at his residence, Hill View, Tredegar on Thursday last week.
Since his demobilisation Sergeant Major Gravenor has been in indifferent health, as the result of being gassed and wounded in the war, but it was only during the last few months that his condition became serious, he was confined to the house and unable to follow his employment. His relatives and friends entertained strong hopes that with his good constitution he would be able to resist the attacks, but in this they were deceived, his some-what sudden death came as a great blow to them and the town generally.
The deceased came of a volunteer family, his father, the late Quartermaster Llewellyn P Gravenor, being one of the founders of the first volunteer company established in the town. Since that time Tredegar volunteers have never been without a Gravenor in its ranks and have always taken a deep and practical interest in the welfare of the movement. Two brothers, Regimental Sergeant Major Gravenor and Sergeant Major Llewellyn Gravenor, served in the Great War, while Mr Ralph Gravenor volunteered and served in the South African War in 1900 – 1901, in connection with the R A M C.
On the outbreak of the war in August 1914, Sergeant Major Gravenor was mobilised with the 3rd Mons and proceeded with his regiment to France in the early part of 1915. He was this famous territorial regiment up to May of that year, when it was in a terrific engagement in which its mettle was tried and not found wanting. The regiment suffered severely, but fully retained the reputation of the British Army in its steadfastness and doggedness against overwhelming odds. Many brave boys from this locality fell in that ever memorable battle in Belgium in May 1915. Sergeant Major Gravenor was badly wounded, but he displayed conspicuous bravery and presence of mind in the midst of a deluge of bullets and bursting shells. He gallantly rallied the men in the platoon to which he was attached after all the officers had fallen, his heroism saving the situation in that section of the battle, as well as getting the men out of a most desperate situation. His conduct was seen by Colonel Isherwood, of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Regiments, who was in command of that section of the battlefield and during the day he sent a dispatch to headquarters recommending Sergeant Major Gravenor to the highest honour for conspicuous bravery. Unfortunately, Colonel Isherwood was killed the following day, so the conduct of Sergeant Major Gravenor had to be assessed at headquarters by the hurried report written on the battlefield. The gallant Sergeant Major, however, was subsequently awarded the D C M by the British authorities and the Croix de Guerre, with Palms (the highest order) by the French authorities, being the only one in the regiment to receive the latter distinction. Later the Sergeant Major was badly gassed and in consequence of that and his wounds he was invalided to England and remained for some time in Chichester Hospital. On recuperating he was attached to the training camp at Oswestry, where he remained until the end of the war, rendering invaluable service in the training of recruits.
On returning to civilian life, he resumed his duties as a shops inspector, under the joint authorities of Tredegar, Ebbw Vale and Bedwellty District Councils, to which he had been appointed before the outbreak of the war. Sergeant Major Gravenor was extremely popular in the regiment, both with the officers and the rank and file; he was a highly efficient non-commissioned officer, who on several occasions refused a commission. He was every inch the soldier and throughout his connection with the territorial force, did great credit to the King’s uniform. He had been connected with the “Terriers” for about 27 years; he had received the long service medal and was entitled to the Volunteer Decoration.
He had an easy going personality, the gift of happy expression, a keen sense of humour and refreshing originality. During the war he drew many delightful pen pictures of incidents his regiment played a part, in fact he was the recognised historian of the 3rd Mons. In civilian life he was through and earnest as in military matters, in everything he was a sport through and through. In all matters athletic in the town he was ever to the fore and one of the leading spirits. For years he played in the forward ranks of Tredegar Rugby Football Club, of which he became captain in one of its most successful seasons, showing splendid qualities of leadership and setting up before the men a high code of honour, which gained for the team the admiration of the spectators not only at home, but of the football crowds outside, before whom they played. He threw himself whole-heartedly into the game, always accepting the result, no matter what it was, in the true sporting spirit. On several occasions he wore the colours of the County, always justifying his selection. Some fifteen or twenty years ago, when long walks were all the rage, Mr Gravenor was the secretary of a club with the strong sounding name of “Piff Puff”, which organised walks to Abergavenny and back. They aroused great public interest, resulting in some splendid achievements. He was the very soul of this club. In many other ways he assisted in popularising healthy recreation and his great ambition was to remove from it the taint of professionalism. He loved sport for the sake of sport.
The death at so early an age of a very useful and promising young man, who served his town and country so well, is deeply deplored and the greatest sympathy is felt with his widow, two young children and brothers and sisters.
The funeral took place on Monday and was an unmistakeable manifestation of the great respect in which he was held in the neighbourhood. The obsequies were of a semi-military character and were attended by a large number of local officers and members of the local branch of the Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Federation. Among the officers present were: Lieutenant Colonel J G Bishop, Abergavenny; Captains L D Whitehead, R E Lewis, Ebbw Vale; W P Abbott, D Morgan; Lieutenants R B Spencer, D H Angus, Warren Jenkins, Basil Edwards, T Thomas, B Powell, R G Davies, H Hopkins, D A Onions. Among the non-commissioned officers were Quartermaster Sergeant Cook, Abergavenny; Quartermaster Sergeant Ellway; Quartermaster Sergeant Phillips Coulson Ebbw Vale; T Northam, M R Davies, F Jones, T Carey Devaureux Ebbw Vale, G O Thomas, Price Pickering, A V Jackson, J Stewart, W Coombes, Colour Sergeant J W Price, Corporal D Roberts, Corporal A Roberts, Trumpeter B Nash. The following men of the 3rd Mons were also present: – Messrs G Powell, W Adlam Perrin, Amos Williams, Clifford Jones, M Simmonds and Maloney. A contingent of old territorial’s from Ebbw Vale also attended and included Messrs. Baxter, French, Murphy, Gunter, Ross, Owen and Hinton. Among the general public present were. Messrs A Coombes, C D Watkins, L E S Harvey, C Barlett, T Bosley, J H Davies, A Phillips, H Watkins, C Campbell, Counc, S Filer, Messrs A P J Gough and D W Davies representing Tredegar District Council, Counc. G E Golding, Messrs A Saunders, J Jones B A, George Petit, The Catholic Young Men’s Guild, of which the deceased was president, was also represented.
The chief mourners were: Messrs Percy Llewellyn and Ralph Gravenor, brothers, C W Morgan and Reg Crocker.
The coffin was draped with the Union Jack.
The Rev. Father Vernacombe officiated. Wreaths were sent by the following: Wife and Babies; Sisters and Brothers; Nieces and Nephews at Bridgewater; Nieces and Nephews at London; Nieces and Nephews St Fagan’s; Nieces and Nephews at Merriot; Aunt Lizzie and Cousins; Connie and Earnest; al at home in Ireland; Staff at Bedwellty House; his old comrades at Abergavenny; Discharged Soldiers and Sailors at Tredegar; Captain and Mrs L D Whitehead; Mr H J C Shepard; Mrs Power; Mr and Mrs Phillips; Drill Hall Tredegar; Mr and Mrs C Bartlett; Mr Richard Bartlett, Blackwood; Mrs Fear and family; Mrs Lewis Bernstein and family; St Joseph’s Young Men’s Catholic Guild, Tredegar; Tredegar Football Club.
At the meeting of the Tredegar Chamber of Trade on Monday evening, a vote of condolence was passed with the widow and family on the motion of the President Mr W A B Harvey, seconded by Mr R S Grierson, the latter stating that Mr Gravenor was a man of very fine character and who was at all times ready to render any assistance he could to the townspeople.
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