Graham Grant was born in early 1891, one of ten children to Charles and Emma Grant. Charles was a sign painter and both he and his wife were from Wiltshire, but it was in Frome, Somerset, that they chose to settle and raise their family.
When he left school Graham found work as an assistant in a jeweller’s shop, but when war came to England’s shores, he was keen to do all that he could for King and Country.
While full details of his military service are not available, it is noticeable that the local newspaper – the Somerset Standard – dedicated a full column to news of his death in 1916, and then a further full column to his funeral a week later. The newspaper reported that:
Private Graham Grant, who was just 25 years of age, was living in Bristol when the war broke out, and in September 1914, he joined the 4th Gloucesters along with his eldest brother, Private Charles Grant, and being in the same platoon they were inseparable companions both in training and in the trenches… They went out to the Front just over 12 months ago – January 1915 – and for practically a year they escaped injury…
Private Grant had not been home since he landed in France, but he and his brother were expecting to have leave at Christmas to visit their family and friends at Frome. On the 23rd December… [he] was with his platoon in a trench, the top of which was some three feet above the heads of the men. At 8:30 in the evening they were about to be relieved… when a German machine-gun opened fire on the trench.Somerset Standard: Friday 11th February 1916
A bullet hit Graham in the back and he was taken first to a hospital in Rouen, then medically evacuated back to England. Admitted to the Racecourse Hospital in Cheltenham, x-rays showed that his spine had been shattered by the bullet, and he was paralysed from the waist down. “[His] case was regarded as hopeless from the first” and as many friends and family went to see him as possible. Private Grant passed away on 6th February 1916, Emma and his three sisters at his bedside. He was just 25 years of age.
Graham Grant’s body was brought back to Frome, and laid to rest in the graveyard of Christ Church in the town. The funeral, at the family’s request, was devoid of any military fanfare or involvement.
While there was a lot of reporting on both the death and funeral, the vicar of St John’s Church in the town noted in his sermon that Graham had been a member of the choir there, both as a boy and a man. He was also the first chorister of the church to give his life for his country. Reverend Randolph went on to say that:
…there were things connected with Graham Grant’s death for which [he was] thankful… he did not die on the battlefield, maybe after hours of suffering unattended and without succour… he did not die in the hands of the enemy or in the enemy’ country… he died surrounded by his relatives and friends, those who were near and dear to him, and that he had the most skilful medical treatment and tender nursing.Somerset Standard: Friday 11th February 1916