Francis Octavius Grenfell
|Francis Octavius Grenfell|
|Buried at||Hooge Crater Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery|
|Years of service||1900-1915 †|
|Unit||King's Royal Rifle Corps|
|Battles/wars||Second Boer War|
World War I
|Relations||Field Marshal Francis Grenfell, 1st Baron Grenfell (uncle)|
Julian Grenfell (cousin)
Admiral John Pascoe Grenfell (grandfather)
Francis Octavius Grenfell, VC (4 September 1880 - 24 May 1915) was an English soldier of British Army. He received the Victoria Cross. The cross is the highest award for bravery against the enemy, and can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Family[change | change source]
Grenfell was born on 4 September 1880. His parents were Sophia and Pascoe Du Pré Grenfell. He was one of fifteen children. He had a twin brother, Riversdale Grenfell. He was also in the 9th Lancers and killed in action in September 1914. Admiral John Pascoe Grenfell was their grandfather. Field Marshal Francis Grenfell, 1st Baron Grenfell was their uncle. An older brother, Lieutenant Robert Septimus Grenfell, 21st Lancers, was killed in a cavalry charge during the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. Three other brothers, Cecil Grenfell, Howard Maxwell Grenfell and Arthur Morton Grenfell all reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army. A cousin, Lieutenant Claude George Grenfell was killed at Spion Kop during the Boer War. Two other cousins Julian Grenfell (the poet) and his brother Gerald William Grenfell were killed in the First World War.
Victoria Cross[change | change source]
On 24 August 1914 at Audregnies, Belgium, Captain Grenfell rode with the regiment in a charge against a large body of unbroken German infantry. Damages of friendly army were so heavy, and Grenfell was left as the senior officer. When he was reorganizing the regiment behind a railway bank, he was twice hit and severely wounded. But once he was asked to save the guns by Major Ernest Wright Alexander of the 119th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, Grenfell and some volunteers helped to push the guns out of range of enemy fire, under a shower of bullets. London Gazette on 16 September 1914 wrote as follows:
For gallantry in action against unbroken infantry at Andregnies, Belgium, on 24th August 1914, and for gallant conduct in assisting to save the guns of the 119th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, near Doubon the same day.
Legacy[change | change source]
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Regimental Museum of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers housed in Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby, England.
Polo[change | change source]
All nine of the Grenfell brothers were expert polo players. Francis and his brother Riversdale Grenfell were regarded as the best in the family. Francis was rated at an 8 goal handicap. The twin brothers were on the Ranelagh team that won the American Open. And they were on the team Freebooters, alongside Leopold Christian Duncan Jenner and the Duke of Roxburghe, that won the Hurlingham Champion Cup.
References[change | change source]
- Coomb, Arthur Grenfell. "Grenfell Family History". Archived from the original on 2012-08-11. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
- "No. 28976". The London Gazette. 13 November 1914.
- "Casualty details - Grenfell, Francis Octavius". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
- Horace A. Laffaye (2009). The Evolution of Polo. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0786438142.
It is very true that the First World War robbed the British of some of their top and most promising players: Geoffrey Bowlby, Harold Brassey, Leslie Cheape, Noel Edwards, Francis and Rivy Grenfell, Lord Hugh Grosvenor, Brian Osborne, Bertie Wilson ...
- This England Books (1997). The Register of the Victoria Cross. This England. ISBN 9780906324271.
- Gliddon, Gerald (2011). VCs of the First World War 1914. History Press Limited. ISBN 9780752459080.