b. 14/10/1861 Bourtie, Scotland. d. 23/11/1932 Sidmouth, Devon.
Charles James William Grant (1861-1932) was born on 14th October 1861 in Bourtie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the son of Lieutenant-General P.C.S. St John Grant, and Helen, daughter of Colonel William Birset. He was educated privately, and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He joined the Suffolk Regiment on 10th May 1882, and the Madras Staff Corps two years later, 10th May 1884, taking part in the Burma Expedition, 1885-1887, earning the campaign medal and clasp.
In March 1891, during a revolt in the eastern Indian State of Manipur, several British officers were murdered, while others were imprisoned. Lieutenant CJW Grant of the Madras Staff Corps with a detachment of eighty Punjabi and Gurkha soldiers was stationed at the border post of Tamu, some 55 miles from Manipur. On hearing about the incident on 28th March, he immediately marched with his detachment for relief of the survivors. On 31st March, he arrived at Thobal about 15 miles from Manipur and immediately attacked and captured the village. He then proceeded to entrench his force. Next day, the Manipuris advanced towards Thobal in force. Without waiting for the enemy to attack, Lieutenant Grant with forty men went out to meet them and forming up, opened fire. For the next nine days, the intrepid young officer and his gallant men repulsed repeated attacks. Always keeping the initiative, and surprising the Manipuris with sallies, he inflicted heavy casualties and thoroughly demoralized them. Several offers of truce and safe passage were spurned by him. On 9th April, he received orders to withdraw towards a British force, which was then advancing towards Manipur. Eighty men had defied the entire army of a state for more than a week, losing just one man killed and four wounded, including Lieutenant Grant. The lieutenant and his men joined the relieving force and took further part in fighting during which he was again wounded. The British entered Manipur on 26th April, bringing an end to the rebellion. For his conspicuous bravery, inspirational leadership and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Charles Grant was awarded the Victoria Cross.
After the gazetting of his VC on 26th May 1891, he was presented with his medal on 6th July 1891 by the Governor of Madras, Lord Wenlock, at Octacamund, India. He was then appointed Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant-General Sir J.C. Dormer, Commander in Chief, Madras. In the same year, he married Mary, daughter of T. Denton Scholes and widow of J.W. Langlois. He became Lieutenant-Colonel in June 1904, and Brevet Colonel in June 1907, before he retired in October 1913. During the Great War, he was DCO, attached to 3rd Royal Scots.
In retirement, he lived in Devon, and enjoyed fishing and shooting. He died at his home in Sidmouth, Devon on 23rd November 1932, aged 71. He was buried in Sidmouth Cemetery. Sadly, the grave over the years became in a state of disrepair, until October 2014, when it was renovated following the work of the Sidmouth Royal British Legion. His medals were sold at Spinks in 2011 for a hammer price of £230,000, and the purchaser is not known.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: SIDMOUTH CEMETERY, SIDMOUTH, DEVON.
Charles Grant's newly renovated grave in Sidmouth, Devon (Picture: Steve Lee).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier SECTION 0, GRAVE 40
Replica medal group at the Gurkha Museum, Winchester