Something special has been added to the collection of firefighters’ medals at Auckland’s Fire Region Headquarters.
It’s a replica Victoria Cross which has joined the collection maintained jointly by the NZ Ex Firefighters’ Association and Auckland Fire Brigade Historical Society.
Above image: Janet Grant presents the VC medal to David Neil, Auckland Fire Brigade Historical Society, while Ric Carlyon, Ex Firefighters' Association, looks on. Credit: Auckland Fire Brigade Historical Society.
The medal, the highest recognition for valour, was awarded to John Gildroy Grant, formerly of Hawera Volunteer Fire Brigade, the only firefighter thus honoured.
Presentation of the medal, by John Grant’s daughter, Janet, took place after a colourful Commemorative Service held on 21 June by the N.Z. Ex Firefighters’ Association to honour firefighters who took part in World War One and other conflicts.
John Grant typified firefighters who served their country overseas so his grave at Waikumete Cemetery became the focus for the Service.
Janet Grant travelled from Taranaki to attend. She spoke briefly at the service but surprised and delighted those present when she later announced that she was donating the replica Victoria Cross Medal so it may reside for all time in the cabinet displaying former firefighters’ medals.
John (Jack) Grant was a Foreman in Hawera Brigade when he enlisted in 1915.
He served at the front in France and was awarded the VC for his personal actions on Bancourt Ridge on 1st September 1918 when he twice rushed enemy machine-gun posts, quickly occupying and clearing the positions, allowing an advance.
Both Associations who maintain the medal collection thanked Janet for the unexpected gift saying the VC, and the story behind it, will be centrepiece in a new, second, cabinet being installed at Auckland’s Fire Region HQ.
30 June 2015
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