Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Edward Grant

Edward Grant : Photograph of Edward in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.  Reference: MR3/20/53

Photograph of Edward in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MR3/20/53

Edward Grant : (L to R) Distinguished Conduct Medal; Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Elandslaagte', 'Defence of Ladysmith', 'Belfast'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) Distinguished Conduct Medal; Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Elandslaagte', 'Defence of Ladysmith', 'Belfast'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

Edward was born in around 1871 in Manchester. He had a brother called James and he was a member of the Church of England, but we don't know anything else about his early life or family.

By the time he was 24 Edward lived in Gorton, Manchester. He worked as a warehouseman for Mr McDonald at the Manchester Packing Company in Albert Square. Edward must have wanted more from life because on the 30th December 1895 he enlisted in the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Militia. Edward would keep his civilian job and train to be a soldier for a short period every year.

When he enlisted Edward was 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall and weighed 127 pounds. He had a 'fresh' complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He was given the service number 5241.

It would seem that Edward took to Army service, because he transferred to the Regular Army on the 12th February 1896. He stayed in the Manchester Regiment, but received a new service number on his transfer. This was 4839. The next day he was appointed an Unpaid Lance Corporal.

After training at the Regimental Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne Edward was posted to the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He joined them in Aldershot, Hampshire on the 8th April. Edward began to be paid as a Lance Corporal on the 7th August 1897, and was promoted to Corporal on the 17th November. On the same day the 1st Battalion left Aldershot and sailed to Gibraltar.

Edward began to receive an extra 1 penny (1d) per day Good Conduct Pay on the 18th April 1898. At around the same time he received another pay rise when he elected to 'come under the terms of Army Order Number 65 of 1898'. This ended the practice of deducting 2d per day from Edward's pay to cover the cost of his food, but meant he would not receive the money back in a lump sum when he left the Army.

Edward was promoted again to Unpaid Lance Sergeant on the 17th May, and began to be paid in the rank on the 10th December 1898. Six months later he became a Sergeant.

Tensions between British and Boer settlers in South Africa were rising, and in August 1899 the British Government decided to send the 1st Battalion to South Africa in case war broke out. Edward sailed to Durban and was stationed in the small town of Ladysmith in Natal when war was declared on the 11th October.

The British tried to stop the Boers from capturing Ladysmith. Edward was present at the battle of Elandslaagte on 21st October. This was the first battle of the war in which the Manchesters took part. Although a victory it had no strategic or tactical importance and by the 30th Ladysmith was under siege.

Edward and the 1st Battalion fought hard to stop Boer attempts to take the town, and would attack Boer artillery to stop it from shelling their positions. By the end of the siege food was in short supply and disease was widespread. The British relief force reached Ladysmith on the 28th February 1900.

On the 21st March Edward was Mentioned in Despatches written by General Sir George White, the Commander of the Ladysmith garrison during the siege. His service had been 'brought to notice by general officer commanding, head of department or officer commanding unit'. We don't know whether Edward was Mentioned for one particular incident, or for more general good service.

After Ladysmith the British Army tried to force the Boers to face it in battle. They succeeded on the 21st August 1900 at the Battle of Belfast, or Bergendal. Edward took part in this battle, which lasted until the 27th and ended with the defeat of Boer forces and the capture of their temporary capital, Machadodorp (today called eNtokozweni). The Boers did not surrender; they fought on as guerrillas in small units, so Edward stayed in South Africa.

Edward was Mentioned in Despatches again on the 4th September 1901. According to their author, Field Marshal Frederick Roberts, he had 'rendered special and meritorious service' during the period Frederick had been in command in South Africa, which ended in December 1900. Edward was also awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. This was dated to the 29th November 1900 and published in the London Gazette on the 27th September 1901. We don't know what Edward did to earn the medal.

There were no battles on the same scale as Elandslaagte or Belfast during the rest of the war. Edward served with the 1st Battalion in many smaller operations intended to restrict the Boer's movements and force them to face British soldiers. This strategy was eventually successful and the war ended on the 31st May 1902.

The 1st Battalion stayed in South Africa until the 11th March 1903, when they sailed to Singapore, then part of the Straits Settlements. Whilst he was there Edward decided to extend his Army service to 12 years. He also spent 6 days in hospital suffering from sunstroke, between the 1st and the 7th August 1904.

Edward travelled with the 1st Battalion to Secunderabad in India during December 1904. During his time there he went into hospital 3 times. His first admission was on the 24th April 1905, when he spent 9 days being treated for piles. In mid August and then mid September 1906 Edward was treated twice for rheumatism, which is a pain or discomfort in the joints.

Although the 1st Battalion stayed in Secunderabad until October 1908 it often sent groups of soldiers to 'hill stations', which allowed them to escape the heat and dryness of an Indian summer. Edward spent much of the summer of 1907 at Wellington in southern India. Whilst he was there he decided to extend his Army service to 21 years on the 27th April. During mid September he spent 10 days in hospital being treated for hepatitis. He was 'admitted with pain in abdomen, vomiting and diarrhoea'. Edward admitted to his doctor that he 'had been drinking heavily'.

After returning to Secunderabad for a time Edward spent the period between February and October 1908 away from the 1st Battalion. He was employed as a warden in a detention barracks, where soldiers serving sentences for committing crimes were held. We don't know where this barracks was. When he rejoined the 1st Battalion they had moved to Kamptee.

After another 5 months Edward returned to the UK. He was posted to the 4th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Special Reserve, which had replaced the Militia the previous year. Edward is likely to have been responsible for training and leading the Reservists during their annual training period. He held this job for just 50 days before deciding to leave the Army. He became a civilian again after 13 years and 92 days on the 14th May 1909.

We don't know what Edward did between then and 1914. At some point he married a woman named Ada. They would have at least one child, who was also named Edward. In 1914 they lived at 20 Farndon Avenue in Harpurhey, Manchester. He also joined the National Reserve, which was an organisation that existed to hold the details of military veterans, in case their services should be needed in an emergency.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and along with other National Reserve members Edward was ordered to join the Army later that year. He enlisted on the 23rd December into the 8th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He was given the service number 706 and assigned to Number 5 Supernumerary Company.

Supernumerary Companies were made up of men like Edward, who were too old or unfit to serve at the front. They guarded vulnerable points in the UK such as factories and railways.

On the 6th February 1915 Edward regained his old rank of Sergeant. During this year the British Army took heavy casualties. They needed more soldiers, so during July the men of the Supernumerary Companies were medically assessed. Anyone who could march 10 miles carrying a Lee-Enfield rifle and 150 rounds of .303" ammunition would be selected for further training.

Edward met this standard. He was assessed as Class B, meaning he was not fit enough for the front line but could serve abroad in a garrison. Men in this class were formed into 7 battalions of The Rifle Brigade. Edward joined the 19th 'Western' Battalion on the 1st November. He was given the service number 259.

The 19th Battalion was sent to Egypt at the end of December and Edward would serve there for the rest of the war. His job was similar to what he had done in the Supernumerary Company, protecting vulnerable points. He could also have been used against rebellions amongst the native population. This role was unglamourous, but it freed younger, fitter men to fight at the front.

Like all soldiers serving in units of the Territorial Force Edward was given a new service number during March 1917. His was 201129. Edward was appointed an Acting Company Quartermaster Sergeant in late September 1917. This position was confirmed when he was promoted to Colour Sergeant on the 12th October.

The war ended on the 11th November 1918 and Edward was returned to the UK on the 22nd February 1919. He was demobilised one month later.

We don't know anything about the rest of Edward's life. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in mid 1973. Edward's son held the position of Lord Mayor of Manchester between 1972 and 1973.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council