No. 85A Private Donald (Don) Douglas Grigg
Donald Douglas Grigg was born in 1883 to Thomas Tobias Grigg and Kathleen Douglas Williamson at Drysdale, Victoria. His parents had married in Victoria, in 1877.
The family first lived at "Greenvale", a farming property about one mile north of the Drysdale Railway Station. In early 1905, Thomas Grigg began to sell off part of his Greenvale Estate as reported in The Geelong Advertiser, 24 April 1905, p.3.
In November 1905, the Trustee in the Estate of Mr T.T. Grigg authorised the public sale of the 350 acre Greenvale Farm as well as residential lots in the township of Portarlington as reported in the Geelong Advertiser, 25 November 1905, p.3. [It is unclear as to why a trustee was involved, as Mr T. T. Grigg had not died.]
Then in late December 1905, Mr T.T. Grigg’s Greenvale Estate at Drysdale was reported as about to be taken over by the Government for Closer Settlement Purposes. This was reported in The Argus, 12 December 1905, p.6. Once they acquired it, it somehow came back to the Grigg family boys. A newspaper item in the Geelong Advertiser, 23 June 1906, p.7 explains the operation of the "Greenvale" and "Elsievale" farming properties, and how they were being managed by the "four sturdy young brothers, Messrs, R., J., D., and T. Grigg, who had acquired the property under the Closer Settlement Act." This referred to the brothers Richard (21 years), James (27 years), Donald (23 years) and Thomas (25 years). Norman at this time was just 13 years, and obviously worked on these properties.
The "Greenvale" property, comprising a homestead and 99 acres, was again put up for auction under instructions from the Closer Settlement Board in 1914, but was passed in. This was reported in the Geelong Advertiser, 10 June 1914, p.2. Nothing is known as to the reason why the Grigg boys decided to give up the property.
Before moving part of his family to the Metropolitan Farm at Werribee in 1914, and taking up a position as a stock manager/caretaker, Thomas Tobias Grigg J.P. had played a prominent role in Local Government on the Bellarine. He had been a Councillor in the Bellarine Shire since 1888, and served as Mayor between 1891 and 1893. He retired from the Bellarine Shire Council in June 1905 after 17 years of public service. At a Council meeting, the Mayor expressed regret at the circumstances which brought about Mr Grigg’s retirement. As reported in the Geelong Advertiser, 12 July 1905, p.1.
The children of Thomas and Kathleen's marriage were:
- Mary Elizabeth Grigg - born 1878 at Bellarine
- James Williamson Grigg - born 1879 at Bellarine
- Thomas Metherall Grigg - born 1881 at Bellarine
- Donald Douglas Grigg - born 1883 at Bellarine (A.I.F.)
- Richard Randolf Grigg - born 1885 at Bellarine
- Gertrude Alice Grigg - born 1888 at Bellarine
- Frederick William Grigg - born 1891 at Bellarine
- Lillian Mabel Grigg - born 1892 Drysdale
- Norman Cecil Grigg - born 1893 at Bellarine (A.I.F.)
- William Archibald (Archie) Grigg - born 1895 at Bellarine (A.I.F.)
Donald Douglas Grigg attended the Geelong College, and there is a short biography included on their web site. It mentions that he was a member of the Drysdale Rifle Club, prior to his enlistment, and also states that he served at Gallipoli and France. His military record does not confirm that he was at Gallipoli, but it also doesn’t account for his place of service at that time.
The Grigg family became involved with the growing of flax in the Bellarine area from about 1912. In that year a local mill was established, and many farmers committed to supply it with their flax crops. Two of those were Mr T. and Mr R. Grigg. Mr Donald Grigg was recorded as being a farmer at the Greenvale and Elsievale farming properties on the Bellarine in 1906.
Between the years 1908 and 1913, the Victorian Electoral Rolls record that Donald Grigg was a Farmer, living at Drysdale on the Bellarine Peninsula. Then in 1914 he relocated to Berwick, and continued farming. While there he lived at the Border Hotel, and he kept that as his home address for the duration of his service during the Great War.
At the age of 29, Donald Douglas Grigg took the Oath for Enlistment at Drysdale on 24 March 1915, and began his basic training. During his initial period of training at the Broadmeadows Military Camp, he worked in the Clearing Hospital for three weeks, until 14 May 1915. He was then appointed as a Private with the Army Medical Corp Details of the 1st General Hospital Reinforcements, on14 May 1915.
Private Donald Grigg embarked from Melbourne per RMS Mooltan on 18 June 1915, with the 1st General Hospital Reinforcements, and sailed to Egypt.
The No 1 Australian General Hospital (1AGH) were at this time located in the former Heliopolis Palace Hotel at Cairo, and they treated all classes of patients from the Gallipoli Campaign.
Private Donald Grigg returned to Australia 'On Duty' with the 1st Australian General Hospital per HMAT Ascanius A11 on 7 September 1915. The ship was bringing wounded men back to Australia, and he would have been involved in their care.
Donald then seems to have taken an extended period of leave from the Army. He returned to the A.I.F. (as an Overseas Service Man) and rejoined his unit at the Broadmeadows Training Camp on 16 August 1916.
He re-embarked per RMS Orontes at Melbourne on 16 August 1916, and sailed to England. His name is not included on the official embarkation roll for that voyage, but the details are on his service record. After disembarking, he went to the Parkhouse Camp on the Salisbury Plains, where the A.I.F. had a Depot and Military Hospital.
After about a month there, he marched out on 12 October 1916, en-route to France, where he was taken on strength with the 1st A.G.B.D. at Etaples.
On 13 November 1916, Private Grigg was taken on strength with the 2nd Field Ambulance 'In the Field' at Bernafay, from reinforcements at the 1st Australian General Base Depot at Etaples in France. Two days later the unit relocated to the former Grande Maison at La Chaussee.
The 2nd Field Ambulance were moved frequently, and on 6 December 1916 they had relocated to Buire. Three days later Private Grigg was admitted to hospital as being sick, with no exact illness being recorded. One month later he was able to return to his unit, who were now attached to the 1st Anzac Corps Rest Station at Bellevue Farm.
On 17 February 1917, Donald Grigg was admitted to hospital suffering with Laryngitis. At this time the 2nd Field Ambulance were stationed at Becourt Cheteau, and they were still there when he re-joined them on 26 February 1917.
Between 15 and 17 September 1917, the 2nd Field Ambulance were employed in evacuating the wounded from a battle along the Ypres – Menin Road. On 18 September 1916, they were ordered to evacuate all of their wounded, in order to receive lots of new cases from the front line. According to the unit’s war diary, the stretcher bearers performed very strenuous work in the line over the next few days. It was in this battle that Private Grigg was wounded. After being gassed and buried, he was moved to the rear for treatment. He was treated by the 3rd Field Ambulance, the 6th Field Ambulance and the 22nd General Hospital at Camiers Dannes.
The circumstances of Private Grigg’s wounding are explained in the book, Wounds & Scars : from Gallipoli to France, the history of the 2nd field Australian ambulance 1914-1918 by Ron Austin, and the led to the awarding of a Military Medal to his rescuer. Lance Corporal Robert Dowsett was in charge of a Bearer Relay Post near the Menin Road, and they were evacuating wounded men in preparation for the October push. During this work, a party of his men came under enemy shell fire, and were buried. The Corporal helped dig his men out, and then organised stretcher squads from a nearby Infantry Unit to move his men back for treatment. For his actions of rescuing the wounded, while continuously under exceptional fire for three hours, he was later awarded a Military Medal. Private Grigg was one of the wounded who were saved.
In need of further treatment, Private Grigg was embarked for England per Hospital Ship Ville de Liego, and then admitted to the County of Middlesex War Hospital at Napsbury St Albans, on 23 September 1917.
As part of his convalescence, he was transferred to 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield on 2 October 1917, and discharged for duty on 12 October 1917 to the No 2 Command at Weymouth. He was then transferred to the No 4 Command Depot at Codford, and on 6 December 1917, he was sent to the Overseas Training Brigade at Hurdcott. The purpose of this camp was to harden up soldiers at the end of their recovery, and prepare them for conditions back in the trenches.
Just after Christmas of 1917, Private Grigg departed from the A.A.M.C. Training Base at Parkhouse, and sailed to France via Southampton. He arrived at the Australian General Base Depot at Rouelles on 28 December 1917, and arrived back with the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance on 4 January 1918. They were spread out in three locations; Yonge Street, Wytschaete and Kandahar Farm.
At the end of January, the 2nd Field Ambulance handed over their Younge Street Main Dressing Station (M.D.S.) to the 14th Field Ambulance and moved to Bailleul, where they relieved the 11th Field Ambulance. Here they took charge of the Divisional Rest Station (D.R.S.) for a month, and cared for an average of 150 patients per day. [There is a photo of all of the enlisted men of the 2nd Field Ambulance at Bailleul on page 119 of the book, Wounds and Scars. Private Grigg would be among them.]
A Division Rest Station was designed to allow soldiers to rest and recover. They had warm, well lit recreational facilities for soldiers of all levels of fitness. Laundry facilities were available and concerts were regularly held. There were opportunities for the men of the 2nd Field Ambulance to take leave in Paris and England during this time.
On 1 March 1918, the 2d Field Ambulance handed over the D.R.S. to the 13th Field Ambulance, and they relocated to the McGilligan and Keersebron Camp, nearby.
In April 1918, the unit relocated by train to Morbecque and set up an Advanced Dressing Station. This station suffered a direct hit from an enemy shell on 17 April 1918, killing three men, wounding six, and damaging a lot of equipment. As a result of the attack, the unit relocated to the village of Hazebrouck where they had a relatively uneventful few months until they were ordered to Villers Bretonneux in August 1918. In a 12-hour period, during the Battle of Lihond, their Advanced Dressing Station handled 270 casualties.
During the fighting at Herleville Woods the enemy drenched the area with Mustard Gas, and on one day, 530 gas casualties were evacuated by the 2nd Field Ambulance, all being temporarily blinded. The treatment for gassed patients was a bath in Sodium Bicarbonate, washing out the eyes and throat with the same solution, a drink, and then paraffin or castor oil was applied to the eyes. New clothes were issued, and the men were then sent back to a Casualty Clearing Station.
In September 1918, the 2nd Field Ambulance were in the Halle area. Bearers were attached to the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions, and a Walking Wounded Dressing Station was being manned at Tincourt.
During the fighting, on 18 September1918, Private Grigg was admitted sick to Hospital with lumbago - lower back pain – possibly due to his stretcher bearing duties. He was treated by the 1st Australian Field Ambulance, the 12th Casualty Clearing Station, and on 20 September 1918, he was admitted to the 6th General Hospital at Rouen where he was diagnosed with myalgia, which is the overuse or over-stretching of a muscle or group of muscles.
In need of further treatment, he was then invalided back to England sick per the Hospital Ship Panama, and admitted to the Military Hospital at Winchester on 24 September 1918. He was still in hospital when the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, and he was discharged on leave on 16 November 1918.
After his leave expired, he reported to the Training Brigade at Suttton Veny in Wiltshire, and waited for a passage back home. He was classified as "1915 Personnel", and this afforded him a priority. Private Grigg embarked on 2 January 1919 per Berrima for his return voyage to Australia, and arrived back in Melbourne on 17 February 1919.
He was discharged from the 3MD on 11 April 1919, and resumed his civilian life.
After leaving the A.I.F., Donald Grigg moved back to Berwick and continued farming there until 1922, when he moved to the Western Districts of Victoria.
The Shire of Stawell Rate Book for November 1922 records that Donald Grigg was at that time farming 324 acres of land on the Soldier Settlement’s North Woodlands Estate, near Navarre. By 1929 he had increased his farm size to 450 acres.
The Electoral Roll for 1925 also records that he had then relocated to Navarre in the Landsborough District of Western Victoria, and had continued farming. Many other former soldiers had joined him there, and they faced many difficulties, mainly due to the small size of their blocks.
In late 1935, Donald Grigg married Dorothy Helen Wright in Victoria, and they both continued farming on their property Woodlands at Navarre [in the Shire of Avoca, 166 miles by rail from Melbourne], until about 1941.
The couple were popular local sports people there. Donald was considered to be the mainstay of the Navarre Cricket Club, and Dorothy was a founding member of the local Golf Club.
Donald contacted the Army in October 1940, about replacing his missing discharge certificate from the A.I.F. He would have required this in order to apply for a position with the Post Master General’s Department. His application was successful, and by 1943 the couple had relocated to Noojee in Gippsland, and taken over the local post office. He was the Post Master and Dorothy was his assistant. The announcement of their departure from the Navarre district was published in the Weekly Times, 9 November 1940, p.43.
Three years later, in 1946, the couple moved from Noojee to The Oaks near Camden in New South Wales, and operated the Post office there until Donald died, four years later.
Donald passed away in the District Hospital at Camden on 26 December 1950, and he was cremated at the Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. A death notice was published in the Camden News,11 January 1951, p.6.
His widow Dorothy contacted the Army in January 1951 from her home at The Oaks in New South Wales, asking if she was entitled to a pension through her husband’s war service.
Medals & Entitlements:
- 1914-15 Star – received
- British War Medal – received
- Victory Medal – received
The surname "Grigg" never appeared in the Werribee Shire Banner’s Roll of Honor in any of their wartime editions.
Donald lost two cousins in the Great War.
- No. 1690 Private Arthur James Grigg, died 13 May 1917, and
- No.931 Lieutenant Philip George Frederick Grigg, died on 3 July 1916.
His name is on the Ocean Grove RSL WW1 Veterans list.
The 2nd Field Ambulance was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, which comprised of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions. Most of the members were Victorian. They were responsible for the second level of casualty evacuation, and received wounded men from the front line Regimental Aid Posts. During an attack or an advance, they would follow the fighting and move casualties back from the front to a Casualty Clearing Station. Their means of transport included stretchers, light rail, horse drawn vehicles and motor cycles. During the First World War, the 2nd Field Ambulance landed at Gallipoli, and saw action on the Western Front at the Somme, Hindenburg, Ypres, Pozieres and Hazebrouk.
1st A.A. Hospital – Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Hareford
1st A.G.B.D. – Australian General Base Depot
A.A.M.C. - Australian Army Medical Corps
School - http://gnet.geelongcollege.vic.edu.au:8080/wiki/GRIGG-Donald-Douglas-1883-1950.ashx
Newspapers - http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/
Service History -
Embarkation List - https://www.awm.gov.au/
1st Australian General Hospital - https://www.awm.gov.au/search/
Australian 2nd Field Ambulance – https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au/explore/units/353
Australian 2nd Field Ambulance - http://www.raamc.org.au/web/2fda/index.php?History
Medical Unit colour patches - http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-badges/patches/medical-plus.htm
Wounds & Scars (History of the Australian 2nd Field Ambulance AIF WW1) by Ron Austin [940.47594AUST]