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Norman Cecil Grigg (1893-1945)

Citation

“Norman Cecil Grigg (1893-1945),” Wyndham History, accessed November 14, 2019, http://www.wyndhamhistory.net.au/items/show/2061.
Description

Biographical information on the residents of the Werribee Shire who served in World War One, 1914-1918 named on the Honour Boards held at the Werribee RSL and the Church of England, Werribee (known as the Little River Honour Board).

Description

Biographical information on the residents of the Werribee Shire who served in World War One, 1914-1918 named on the Honour Boards held at the Werribee RSL and the Church of England, Werribee (known as the Little River Honour Board).

Title

Norman Cecil Grigg (1893-1945)

Subject

Grigg, Norman Cecil

Publisher

Wyndham City Libraries

Date

1915

Contributor

Bill Strong

Format

text

Language

eng

Type

Text

Biographical Text

No. 3533  Private Norman Cecil Grigg, 58th Infantry Battalion

Norman Cecil Grigg was born in 1893 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. This was reported in the Geelong Advertiser, 24 April 1905, p.3.

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.)

Before the War
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.

Norman Cecil Grigg was appointed as manager of the Australian Flax Mill at Portarlington in 1914, but he only occupied the position for a short time. He was anxious to enlist in the A.I.F. and applied three times, only to be rejected twice, on medical grounds due to a rupture scar.  His third application on 16 August 1915 was successful, and he took the oath in Geelong that day, and immediately went to training camp.

War Service

Norman took the Oath at Geelong in Victoria on 16 August 1915, and was sent to "D" Company in Geelong until 22 November 1915.  He then moved to the Broadmeadows Camp for training, which he completed on 14 January 1916. He was then appointed to the 8th 22 Battalion Reinforcements.

On 5 January 1916, Norman embarked from Melbourne per HMAT Afric A19, with the 22nd Infantry Battalion (1 to 8 Reinforcements).  With him were two other Werribee boys, the Fogarty brothers:  William Francis Fogarty and Percy John Fogarty.

After disembarking in Egypt, the men were sent to the Military Camp at Zeitoun (NE of Cairo), for further training.

The 57th Battalion A.I.F. was formed on 17 February at Zeitoun, by transferring about half of the 5th Battalion, and then detailing the remainder of men from reinforcements at the Training Camps around Zeitoun.  The new battalion then marched to their new camp at Tel-el Kebir, and were established in their tents by 21 February 1916.  A batch of 70 Officers and 479 other ranks then joined them, from the 6th Training Battalion at Zeitoun on 23 February 1916.  One of these was Private Norman Grigg.  He remained with the battalion for only a few weeks before being transferred.

The 58th Battalion A.I.F. was formed on 17 February 1916 at Serapeum, with officers and men from the 6th Battalion. Roughly half the men were Gallipoli veterans, and the remainder were reinforcements from Victoria.  Private Norman Grigg was taken on strength with them on 15 March 1916, when the battalion were camped at Tel-el-Kebir.  This move was part of a territorial basis restructure.  Men were being transferred between the 57th, 58th, 59th and the 60th Battalions.

After the restructure was completed on 28 March 1916, the Brigade was ordered to relocate to Ferry Post on the Suez Canal.  This involved a march of several days before they reached the new camp, about one mile away from the canal. Then followed more training until 13 April 1916 when they received orders to take over "A" sub-section of the Suez Canal Defences.  This required them to relocate to a new camp at Hogs Back.  After two weeks they were relieved, and returned back to Moascar.  It was here, on 31 May 1916, that Norman Grigg was promoted temporarily to be a Driver.

On the night of 16 June 1916, the Battalion left Moascar camp by train at 10 p.m, and arrived at the port of Alexandria at 6 a.m. the following day.  After embarking per H.M.T.  Transylvania, they sailed out to join the B.E.F. in Europe.

Their voyage to Marseille in France took one week, and they disembarked on 23 June 1916.  Once ashore, they immediately boarded a train to take them north.  After three days travelling, they de-trained at the village of Steembecque, and took over huts and tents at Camp No.3.

During the month of July 1916, the battalion went into the front line three times, in the area around the village of Sailly and at Windy Post.  This was the time of the major battle at Fromelles, and the 58th Battalion had the dual role of providing carrying parties, and being a reserve force.  The reserves were ordered into the attack late in the battle and suffered heavy losses to enemy machine gun fire.  Casualties were almost one third of their strength.

On 1 August 1916, the 58th Battalion were back in their billets, resting and doing fatigue works.  It was here that Norman suffered a hernia, causing him to be admitted to hospital.  He was treated by the No.1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station at Estaires (No.1 A.C.C.S.), and the 3rd Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne.

He had recuperated by 22 September 1916, and re-joined his battalion who were still positioned at Fromelles.  On the following day, they relieved the 29th Battalion in the front line trenches.  These were manned according to rules, viz. 200 men for each 1000 yards of front line, including Vickers and Lewis machine gunners, and 400 men for 1,000 yards in the 300-yard line.  Opposing them were German troops from the 21st Bavarian Regiment.

The battalion continued to man the front line in the Fromelles sector for a further two months, before withdrawing.

Early in 1917, the 58th Battalion were part of an advance that followed the German Army’s retreat to the Hindenburg Line, but they saw little fighting. Then in May 1917, they took part in the Second Battle of Bullecourt, and later moved to the Ypres Section in Belgium, where they fought in the Battle at Polygon Wood on 26 September 1917.

Norman Grigg’s war continued unscathed, until July of 1917, when he was again admitted to hospital for one week.  There is no record of what he was suffering from.  He was granted leave in England in August 1917, and returned to his battalion, just before they went into action at Polygon Wood.

On 4 January 1918, Norman was sent to the 5th Division Demonstration Platoon at the 15th Infantry Brigade School at Daours.  There is no information available at this time as to what they did, and he returned to the 58th Battalion on 27 May 1918.  They were now positioned at near the Aubigny Line and the Somme Canal.  Most days were spent in working parties, clearing up artillery damage and burying signal cables.

Three months later, during an attack on Bayonvillers in northern France, Norman Grigg was wounded in action.  He was gassed on 8 August 1918, and subsequently treated by the 6th Field Ambulance, the 47th Casualty Clearing Station,
and the 6th General Hospital at Rouen.
[His gassing was reported in the Geelong Advertiser, 7 October 1918, p.4.]
Two days later he was invalided back to England by the Hospital Ship Grantully Castle, and then admitted to the 1st Birmingham War Hospital at Rubery (or Rednal) in the West Midlands.

On 21 August 1918, he was discharged to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford for a month. [This hospital eventually grew to 1,400 beds, and was primarily used for the treatment of war-related nerves and neuroses].  Private Grigg was then discharged to the No.4 Command Depot at Hurdcott.  The Command Depots had been set up for those men deemed fit enough to resume active service.  From there they went to the Overseas Training Brigade to be hardened up for life back in the trenches.

On 30 October 1918, Private Grigg departed from the Southampton Training Brigade Camp, and proceeded to Havre in France.  He arrived back with the 58th Battalion on 8 November 1918, just three days before the Armistice.  The men were at Behen in France, undergoing training and participating in organised sports. On the day of the Armistice, the men were “put through the baths at Huppy”, and news of the signing was received quietly.  A few flags were hung in the local village.

The Battalion took part in a Brigade Parade on 1 December 1918 at Favril. They were reviewed by the King, who was accompanied by the Prince of Wales and Prince Albert.  His Majesty walked around and inspected all men wearing decorations. These men were positioned in front of the leading Company.

On the following day, the men were paraded, and the proposed Educational Scheme was explained to them. This would give them an opportunity to learn a trade or skill, while they were waiting to return to Australia.

58th Battalion relocated their camp from Favril to Dourlers on  8 December 1918.  This was achieved with a route march of one day, and they were warmly welcomed there by the villagers.

After four months at Dourlers, undergoing training and playing sports, the Battalion moved to Boussu-lez-Walcourt. A quota system was in place to determine the priority of returning men back home.  Those remaining played sport, underwent training and were allowed to go sightseeing.

On 23 March 1919, Private Grigg was advised that he was one of the quota that would march out for Australia on the following day.  He was one of 3 Officers and 127 other ranks selected to go.  On the following day, because of the reduction in numbers, the 58th and 59th Battalions were merged together and became the 15th Brigade Battalion.

On his return to England, he passed through the Australian General Base Depot (A.G.B.D.) at Havre in France, and arrived at the No. 2 Command Depot at Weymouth on 2 April 1919. There was a six week delay, until he embarked per R.M.S. Orontes on 15 May 1919, and began his voyage home.  He arrived at Melbourne on 28 June 1919, and was discharged from the 3rd Military District on 22 August 1919.

Post War

After the war, Norman returned to the flax industry.  Around 1922 he formed a partnership with his brother William Grigg, and George Hodges, to operate The Flax Company at Wurruk near Sale, in Gippsland.  [Gippsland Times, 27 September 1923, p.2.]

They invented their own machines to produce the flax and remained in business there until September 1923 when the partnership was dissolved. The Grigg brothers then moved back to the Bellarine where they established a new factory at Drysdale.  [Examiner, (Launceston), 22 October 1927, p.4.]

Norman then began working on improvements to the methods of extracting flax from chaff, and patented some of his designs:

  • U.S. Patent 1780480 A – Method of, and apparatus for, decorticating, retting, and scotching flax. Dated 12 January 1929.
  • U.S. Patent 2560603 A – Apparatus for cleaning animal intestines. Dated 17 May 1944.

Between 1927 and 1934, Norman Cecil Grigg is recorded on the Electoral Roll as being a Flax Miller, living at Drysdale.  [His name remained on the Victorian Electoral Roll over the period of the war (1914–1919) as the  Manager of the Flax Mill at Portarlington].

He then decided to relocated to Queensland and worked with the Linseed and Flax Pty Ltd., at Redbank.  After that company liquidated in 1935, he took over their premises, and founded the Linfin Pty Co., to process locally grown flax as reported in Queensland Times, 26 July 1935, p.6.

 

On 19 January 1938, he married Mary Josephine Marshall in Queensland, and they went on to have two sons: Douglas and Bruce.

Norman was a strong campaigner for the Queensland Flax Industry, and wrote many articles of support.

  • In 1935 he was the Director of Linfin Pty Ltd, when he wrote a letter to the editor regarding the Australian Flax Industry and Linseed oil production. Courier Mail, 22 July 1935, p.9.
  • In 1936 he was a director of Linfin Pty Ltd at Redbank, when he spoke on the good prospects for farmers to produce flax. Courier Mail, 24 August 1936, p.9.
  • In 1940 he was with Australian Cloth Pty Ltd, and he spoke on the potential of flax growing around Kingaroy in Queensland.  He identified a shortage of flax yarn, required for the manufacture of corn sacks and for heavy cloth.  Johnstone River Advocate, 5 January 1940, p.2.

As a Director of Linfin Pty Ltd, he gave evidence in 1941 before a Federal Parliamentary Committee on Rural Industries.  He claimed that there was a future for the flax industry in Queensland, despite an opinion to the contrary by the then Director of Agriculture, Mr C McKeon. Central Queensland Herald, 14 August 1941, p.27. The result of that inquiry is unknown.

The family had moved back to Victoria by 1945, and resided at 12 McGregor Avenue, Black Rock.  It was here where Norman Grigg died suddenly, at the young age of 52 years.  A funeral notice was placed in The Argus, 3 July 1945, p.2.  An obituary was published in the Gippsland Times, 12 July 1945, p.1.

Norman's mother, Katherine, died in July 1946. The Argus, 3 July 1946, p.16

A legal notice regarding Letters of Administration was published in The Age, 11 April 1947, p.8.

Norman Cecil Grigg is buried in the Springvale Cemetery.

Notes:

1. Norman Cecil Griggs initials have a typo on the Shire of Werribee Oak Honour Board.

  • 'GRIGG, W.C." should be "GRIGG, N.C."

2. The surname "Grigg" never appeared in the Werribee Shire Banner’s Roll of Honor in any of their wartime editions.

3. 22nd Infantry Battalion: (VIC) 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, A.I.F. 

4. The S.S. Transylvania was later sunk by a German U-boat in 1917, carrying a full load of Allies troops from Marseille to Egypt.

Medals & Entitlements:

  • British War Medal, 1914-19 - received
  • Victory Medal, 1914-1919 - received

Bibliography

A photo of him with the Drysdale Cricket team (c.1938) is on Ancestry.com

His name is on the Portarlington RSL WW1 Honour Roll.

58th Division Unit War Diary – Australian War Memorial Web site

58th Division History – Australian War Memorial Web site

Place a poppy - http://honouringanzacs.net.au/view-anzac-searched.php?aid=111882

Family - http://www.ancestry.co.uk/genealogy/records/nroman-cecil-grigg_24954089

Marriage – findmypast.com.au



Service History -

Embarkation Roll - https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1753157/

58th Batt Unit War Diary – www.awm.gov.au

Service Record - http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/

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