Reverend, Andrew Grant M.C. – Prisoner of War – Survived

Chaplain to the Forces, with 1/2 Highland Field Ambulance, but attached to the 1/3 Highland Field Ambulance.

Army Chaplain’s Department Cap Badge, similar to the one which would have been worn by Andrew Grant.

Synopsis of Life and Military Service

Reverend Andrew Grant was attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps as part of the 152nd infantry Brigade, 51st Highland Division when he was captured on the 22nd November 1917 during the battle of Cambrai. He had been with a RAMC medical officer, Captain Robert Tennant Bruce, reconnoitring the battlefield with a view to establishing aid posts when the couple stumbled on some German positions and were captured.

RAMC War Diary recording Grant and Bruce’s capture © Crown Copyright

He was born in Braemar, Scotland on 24 February 1869. His father was George Grant and his mother Mary Burnett. He entered St Marys College, Blairs on 20 July 1883 and was sent to complete his studies under the Jesuit Fathers of Rue Vaugiraud, Paris in October 1886. He then went to Rome and Scots College in 1889 and was ordained on All Saints day 1894. He returned to Scotland in 1895 and was stationed at the Cathedral in Aberdeen. He took charge of Saint Peters church In the East End of Aberdeen in 1902.

His parish was little more than slum dwellings and employment was hard to find. The inhabitants tended to make full use of the full proof spirit which was easily available and widespread drunkenness was the source of domestic strife and home neglect. By all accounts he took to his role with enthusiasm and good humour and succeeded in finding and providing whatever was asked for including food, shelter, clothes, money and work. He liaised with hospitals, town officials, businesses, works managers, probation officers and formed a network where they helped him to help others.

He was appointed as a Chaplain to the Forces, 4th Class, on 11 January 1916 and was attached to the  2nd Highland Field Ambulance in the Royal Army Medical Corp. Although army chaplains were entitled to stay well behind the lines the majority preferred to spend their time nearer the front, and many spent their time with stretcher bearer teams and were keen to know the terrain they were working. It’s likely Grant went with Bruce in order to familiarise himself with the new aid posts so he could guide bearer teams.

Captivity

THE BATTLE OF CAMBRAI, Soldier of the 51st Division bringing in two German machine gunners with their guns. Near Beaucamp, 20 November 1917. © IWM Q 6274

Having been captured he and Bruce were taken to Bourlon village for some initial questioning after which they were taken to Le Cateau, stopping at a village called Marquion where they were questioned again and then marched to Bourchain. The following day they were taken by train to Le Cateau where they stayed for roughly 4-5 days. Towards the end of November, he and around 20 other prisoners were taken to the train station where they waited for most of the day for a train to Karlsruhe.

When he arrived at Karlsruhe he was Initially kept at a holding facility. Their rooms were well warmed by radiators and their beds were comfortable. There was decent washing and sanitary arrangements and their food consisted of two meals a day. He stayed there the four or five days before being taken to the main camp itself. He was to remain in captivity for the rest of the war.

Death

After his release from the Prison camp, he returned to St Peters to take charge, relieving his brother George who had been responsible for the parish while he had been away. He stayed there until 1947, during which time he installed an organ in the church and helped negotiate the building of a new school. When he retired he went to live with his lifelong friend, Monsignor Charles McDonald. He died on 2 June 1955 and is buried in the churchyard of St Ninian’s Burial Ground, Braes of Enzie, Banffshire.

© AKelly1969 (Find a Grave)

Family

According to various Census data, Andrew had the following family members:

  • Father – George Grant – born c.1842 at Braemar, Aberdeenshire – Labourer.
  • Mother – Mary Grant – born c.1843 at Banchory, Aberdeenshire.
  • Sister – Margaret A Grant – born c.1871 at Braemar, Aberdeenshire.
  • Brother – William Grant – born c.1873 at Braemar, Aberdeenshire.
  • Sister – Jane Grant – born c.1875 at Braemar, Aberdeenshire.
  • Brother – George Grant – born c.1877 at Braemar, Aberdeenshire.
  • Brother – Archibald Grant – born c.1879 at Braemar, Aberdeenshire.

Addresses

  • 1881 – Broombank Auchindryne, 1, Crathie & Braemar, Aberdeenshire,  Scotland.
  • 1901 – Chapel House, St Machar, Huntly Street, Aberdeen, Scotland.
  • 1917 – Prisoner of War Records show his address as St Peters, Justice Street, Aberdeen.
  • 1947 – Portessie near Buckie, Banffshire, Scotland.

Medals

Andrew Grant was awarded the Military Cross, Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War.

Links to Additional Information

References

  •  London Gazette 25 January 1916 Supplement 29451 Page 1088.
  • London Gazette 31 December 1918 Supplement 31092 Page 26.
  • International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • National Archives: WO 95/2858

Groups

Contributors:-

  • Trevor Torkington.

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