2/Lieutenant Edward Julian GROVES (Special Reserve) – (‘C’ Company) Awards: M.C., D.S.O., M.i.D. [Later: Lt.-Col. Edward Julian Groves-McGarel, Scots Guards]
Personal: Edward was born on 23rd August 1894 in Lymm, Cheshire. He was the son of Colonel John Edward Grimble Groves, CMG (1/5th Cheshire Regiment) and Ethel Lloyd (née Allen) Groves.
He had 2 older sisters, Kathleen Annie and Frances Ethel Anprit, an older brother, John Osborn (see Footnote below), a younger sister, Alexandra Winifred and a younger brother, Sidney Patrick Lloyd.
In 1901 (Census RG 13/820) Edward, his mother and siblings were boarders at North Lawn, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent. Father, John, having retired from the Army and giving his employment as “Brewer” (Chairman of Groves and Withnall Brewery).
Edward was staying at a Hotel at 1 Portland Street, Manchester. By 1911 (Census RG 14/21585) the family were back together at Leans Green, Lymm, Cheshire. (See Footnote below)
The Groves family were prominent in the Volunteer movement in Cheshire prior to the First World War and Edwards’s father, Lieutenant J.E.G. Groves, CMG, TD, [right] (see Footnote below) commanded the 5th Battalion The Cheshire Regiment (Territorial Army) in France for the greater part of the War, and subsequently became Chairman of the Regimental Association, retaining that appointment until just before his death in 1948
After returning from his time as a Prisoner-of-War Edward married Hon. Norah Evelyn McGarel-Hogg, on 7th June 1919 at the Church of the Annunciation, Marylebone, London. She was the daughter of the late James Douglas McGarel-Hogg, the 2nd Baron Magheramorne, and Lady Evelyn Harriet Ashley-Cooper.
They had 2 children, Robert Jullian (born 6th June 1920) (See Footnote below) and Celia Norah (b. 22nd June 1924). Edward’s Medal Index Card gives his home address as Battramsley House, Lymington, Hampshire (above leftt).
On 22nd March 1926 Edward’s name was legally changed to Edward Julian Groves-McGarel by Deed Poll. Edward and Norah divorced in 1933. In the March quarter the following year married Isabel Margaret Hannay, in Fulham, London. They divorced in 1957 and in the March quarter 1958 Edward married again, to Leila Theodosia Storr. [see Footnote below]
Established endowment fund for the upkeep of the Regimental Chapel in Chester Cathedral. In 1964 Edward was in the Phone Book living at Elmleigh, Ningwood, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.
In August of that year he led a pilgrimage (photos right) and veterans of the Battalion to mark the 50 year commemoration of the Battle at Audregnies, something repeated on the 100th Anniversary in August 2014.
Contemporary newspaper articles from Mons reported that he led a delegation of around 40 men from the Cheshire Battalion and English veterans. They arrived in the morning at 9:30 am were welcomed by Mlle. Liliane Vallée on behalf of all the people of Audregnies.
“The Colonel replied in laudatory terms and then gave the burgomaster a reproduction of the flag of the battalion, which was saved at Audregnies, and a gift to MM. Hannecart and Thibeau, as well as Jean Stiévenart, parish priest, and Sister Paule.”
This “Flag” was, of course, a copy of ‘The Miniature Colour‘ which had been hidden in the village for the duration of the War. “M. Georges Dupont, … with the help of M. Alphonse Vallée, former teacher, placed the Flag under the roof of the municipal school for girls, where it remained throughout the war.”
This was, of course, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Audregnies.
The photograph of some of the group (above) shows Edward, front row, third from left. On his left is Lt. Col. M.D.K. (Mike) Dauncey, then Col. B.Y. Hayes Newington, OBE.
Edward later moved to South Africa where he died in hospital in Cape Town on 27th February 1977, following a fall just before Christmas and a subsequent stroke.
Military History: Edward was mobilised from the Special Reserve and immediately joined the 1st Battalion with the rank of 2nd/Lieutenant on 14th August 1914. He was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant on 15th September 1914, becoming permanent on 5th December 1914.
The Battalion marched into the line south of Mons and first saw action at ‘The Rearguard Action at Élouges“.
Colonel D.C. Boger deployed his Cheshire companies to extend the Norfolk lines westwards for about a mile to the outskirts of Audregnies and ‘C’ Company under Captain Dugmore were positioned in the centre along the road between Audregnies and Élouges.
The Company dispositions were:- ‘D’ under Capt. Rae Jones on the right straddling the railway line, ‘C’ under Capt. Dugmore in the centre and ‘A’ under Capt. Dyer on the left, covering the road junction, Wiheries-Audregnies and Élouges -Audregnies.
A little later ‘B’ Company, under Capt. Shore, came in on completion of its task as flank guard and was detailed to protect the left flank. Capt. Dugmore had originally sent two platoons forward into the open fields, keeping his other two on the road.
Because the interval between his left forward platoon and the right platoon of ‘A’ Company was somewhat extended, he ordered Capt. Jackson to take the two platoons which were on the road forward to fill the gap. There now followed an advance by three German infantry Battalions. They came from the south-east, from the direction of Quarauble, about 3 miles SW of Quiévrain (in the distance picture below).
Meantime ‘A’ and ‘C’ companies faced an advancing enemy. ‘(Capt.) Dugmore’ writes Crookenden ‘opened rapid fire, causing havoc in the advancing German ranks. The fire control was what one would expect to find on the parade ground rather than the battlefield. But ammunition was running low. Dugmore endeavoured, without success, to get in touch with his reserve supply carried on the Company mule, which appears to have retired with the support platoons of ‘D’ Company. This shortage of ammunition, coupled with the continued and ever-increasing enemy pressure, caused Dugmore to decide that the time had now come to move.
At about 4.30 p.m. therefore he passed the order down to retire “individually” from the right. He organised the men around him into two parties. The first he placed under Groves’ command and ordered him to retire forthwith, while he himself stayed behind with the remainder. Groves withdrew to a position east of the Élouges-Audregnies railway line and there waited for Dugmore. The second party under Dugmore retired to abridge on the mineral railway where he could obtain a good view. He ordered his men to line the railway cutting and called up Groves’ party to join him. But the field of fire was unsatisfactory, so he ordered Groves to take a few men and make a further bound to a cottage away to the east, while he himself remained with his party to cover their retirement.’
This second phase of the Battle of Audregnies developed into a series of isolated actions by small groups. When the group under Dugmore finally had to scatter and retreat, only one man escaped capture.
When Dugmore linked up with Groves he found that Officer and Rich, both with their men awaiting him. These two officers, who had shown extraordinary courage and leadership, then took their men off south-east and joined up with the brigade. ‘Their escape’ says Crookenden ‘was remarkable. They must have squeezed through between the van-guards of the German 66th and 93rd regiments converging on Wiheries from the north and west.‘
Edward was also awarded the D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order) his part in the action (London Gazette, 2nd December 1918, p. 14211). Edward’s Pension Record Card list a ‘Disability‘ as “G.S.W. Rt. Forearm and Back“, but doesn’t say in which action.
In the 1918 New Year’s Honours List Edward had been awarded the Military Cross. The Times reported: “The New Year Honours represent largely the circumstances of war, and, perhaps, as usual, they also reflect human nature in an obvious form. The list is one of the rare opportunities for the public to scan the names of soldiers who have distinguished themselves in service.“
Of the Officers who went into action on 24th August 1914, 3 were Killed in Action, 9 wounded and captured, 6 captured unwounded, 9 remained at duty, of which 5 were later also Killed in Action or Died of wounds.
Edward was one of the 9 who remained on duty, having escaped as described above. He continued to serve with the 1st Battalion throughout the Great War, apart from periods in England when recuperating from wounds.
The next time he is mentioned in the Official History is when he is mentioned in Crookenden (p.154) as one of the Officers of 1st Battalion during the First Battle of Ypres.
The Battle of Nonne Bosschen on the 11th November 1914 marked the final attempt of the enemy to break through to Ypres. The Kaiser joined his troops at the front, making his own exhortation to them to drive ‘the contemptible British army into the sea’.
At dawn on the 10th the enemy began the laying of a tremendous barrage of fire. It is recorded in the 1st Battalion War Diary, which adds a note that ‘the enemy appeared to be massing in a wood south of our position, but our shells scattered them, and they were easily repulsed by our rifle fire, with heavy casualties to them‘.
The Battalion advanced on Achiet-le-Petit, which Crookenden tells us:”… was taken without very heavy casualties by ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies. ……. As the Battalion debouched from the village the fog lifted and the leading companies under Major Busfield and Captain Groves, came under very heavy machine gun fire from beyond the railway and from both flanks.” [Source: “The History of the Cheshire Regiment in the Great War“, p. 154-5 – Col. Arthur Crookenden]
He was appointed Acting Captain on 1st December 1914, a rank which continued at various times to 15th July 1918 (including 3 days as Acting Major in October 1917).
He was appointed “Temporary” Captain on 15th August 1918, remaining until 15th January 1920, when he transferred to the Scots Guards (left). The Army List (Officers on Retired Pay) of late 1941 states that he was promoted to Major on 17th December 1927 and retired from the Scots Guards on 4th March 1931.
The London Gazette (21st November 1941, p. 6693) shows that he “… at his own request, reverts to the rank of Captain whilst employed during the current emergency.” [presumably, the “current emergency” referred to World War 2!] Edward served most of the War in Malta and by the end of his War Service Edward had risen to the rank of Lieutenant- Colonel.
Edward was one of just three of the Original Battalion Officers to be on active service throughout the War, the others being Lieut. Charles de Witt Woodyer and Lieut. James Chambers Sproule, Quartermaster.
In later life Edward moved to live in South Africa, where he died in hospital in Cape Town on 27th February 1977 Edward’s Obituary stated that: “He was renowned for his leadership and courage and awarded a DSO and MC for his services with the 1st Battalion.”
Edward’s father, Col. John Edward Grimble GROVES, CMG, 3rd Volunteer Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.
He was appointed Lieutenant 0n 28th June 1890 and Captain 5th May 1894 and rose through the ranks until appointed Lieutenant-Colonel in the 5th (Earl of Chester’s) Battalion on 7th June 1912. He was recalled at the outbreak of War and posted to France on 5th February 1915. He was he oldest Battalion Commander of the War, and relinquished his Commission on 14th February 1919.
Edward’s brother, Pt. 240484 John Osborne GROVES (pictured on the left, with his father, centre, and brother, Edward) served in the Cheshire Regiment.
He later transferred to the Royal Navy Air Service (R.N.A.S. -combined with R.F.C. in 1918 to form the R.A.F.) He qualified as a Fl.-Lt. on 25th November 1914, at Hendon, on a Grahame-White biplane.
John was Mentioned in Reports for valuable services whilst in captivity, and noted accordingly in the Official Records of the Air Ministry (London Gazette, 16th December 1919, page 15614)
He died on 15th January 1962 at Shenley Hospital, Barnet, Hertfordshire.
Edward’s son, Brig. Robyn Jullian McGarel Groves, OBE, served in the Royal Marines in WW2 from 2nd/Lieutenant in 1939.
During WW2 he served on HMS Venerable, a ‘Colossus Class’ aircraft carrier. Robyn was appointed Captain 0n 11th August 1948 and rose through the ranks until the 1970 Navy Lists shows Robyn as ‘Director of Joint Warfare Staff‘. He was awarded an OBE in the Birthday Honours List, 1966.
Robyn died on 5th December 2014 at Lymington Hospital and was buried at East Boldre, Brockenhurst, Hampshire.
Edward’s future 3rd father-in-law was Major Leycester Penrhyn STORR, DSO, 12th Battalion, Kings (Liverpool) Regiment. He was reported as missing in action on 29th March 1918, aged 38, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.