E.G. Grimston – Kangaroo

Goulburn local Peter Grimston married Goulburn born Emily Toovey in 1892. Their family home was in Emmerson Street Goulburn, where they raised their six children.   One of their sons Ernest George, was working as an engine cleaner when the Kangaroo March camped in Goulburn.

Ernest had served in the Cadets for four years and in the 43rd Infantry for two. He was a tall, slim, brown haired and brown eyed young man aged twenty when he was enlisted into the 55th Battalion 3rd Reinforcement and embarked from Sydney on Barambah in June 1916. Arriving in Plymouth August 1916.

He spent some time in hospital in England with minor problems while undergoing AIF training, before being sent with the 19th Battalion to see action in France and Belgium. The fighting near Fler in November 1916 was in some of the worst conditions experienced by the AIF. During 1917 Ernest saw action in a number of fronts, the follow-up of German forces retreating to the Hindenburg Line, Lagincourt, Bullecourt, Menin Road and Poelcappelle. 1918 brought further fighting – Hangard Wood and Amiens.

On the night of 31st August 1918 the Australians crossed the river Somme and broke the German lines at Mont Saint-Quentin and Péronne.     Ernest was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

The Government Gazette No. 35 describes the action for which this medal was awarded:

‘In the attack on Mont St. Quentin, on 31 August, 1918, his sergeant having located a machine gun, the two decided to attack the post. They worked amongst buildings to within 15 yards, and rushed the gun. Although the sergeant was immediately killed Corporal Grimston reached the post, wounded the two occupants, and captured the gun.’     It was also recorded that he had shown great bravery in bringing in a wounded mate who was in an exposed position, doing so under fire.

A week before the 19th Battalion was disbanded to reinforce other units it took part in its last battle, the forcing of the Beaurevoir Line around Montbrehain on 3 October 1918.   It was the last battle of all for Ernest George Grimston.

The Red Cross Enquiry Bureau records this statement from a witness: ‘We were attacking a trench held up by wires. Grimston was in the act of firing at a German when he was hit by a machine gun bullet. He took off his equipment and crawled back 180 yards’.   Another witness told ‘On the way back I saw Grimston lying in a shell hole. I picked him up. He had been hit by a bullet and was badly wounded. I bandaged his wounds. He was smoking a cigarette and I believe he walked back to an Aid Post’.

Ernest was sent to hospital in England dangerously ill from a gunshot wound to the head. He also contracted pneumonia and died of his wounds on 24th October 1918.   He is buried in the Lodge Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, England.

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Sources: aif.adfa.edu.au; awm.gov.au; nswbdm.gov.au; naa.gov.au.

Warm appreciation for this story is extended to Dahlis Evans.

We would be very interested to learn more of Ernest Grimston or his family if anyone can add to this, please email Angela Williamson at kangaroomarch@gmail.com .

Enlist now to march in the Kangaroo March Re-enactment.