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Grant, Arthur Stanley (1913–1991)

by Chris Clark

This article was published online in 2018

Arthur Stanley Grant (1913-1991), air force officer and company director, was born on 21 June 1913 at Inverell, New South Wales, eldest of four children of Victorian-born Arthur Stanley Grant, vigneron, and his New South Wales-born wife Celia May, née Bell. Arthur junior attended the public school at Bukkulla (1920–-27), before being enrolled at Fort Street Boys’ High School, Sydney. His family moved to Brisbane, while he remained in Sydney to finish his schooling.

After leaving school in 1931, Grant joined his family, and became a clerk with the pastoral company Goldsbrough Mort & Co. Ltd. He qualified as an accountant and secretary (1934), and also attended (1935-37) classes in the faculty of commerce, University of Queensland, but did not take a degree. In 1936 Grant joined the militia, serving as a trooper in the 11th Light Horse Regiment. Three years later he obtained a private pilot’s licence.

Enlisting under the Empire Air Training Scheme, Grant entered the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 8 November 1940. He completed observer training at Bradfield Park, Sydney, before embarking for Canada on 22 February 1941 where he undertook air observer and navigation courses. Appointed temporary sergeant in July, he was commissioned as a pilot officer in August. He arrived in Britain in September, where he began further operational training and was promoted to flying officer shortly before being posted to No. 455 Squadron, RAAF, on 24 February 1942.

Over the next two months Grant navigated on mine-laying and bombing missions over France, the Dutch coast, and Germany, including a major bombing attack on Lubeck on 29 March. After spending two weeks with No 50. Squadron, Royal Air Force (RAF), in May he transferred to No. 420 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force. In July he joined No. 49 Squadron of the Pathfinder Force, where he became known by the nickname ‘The General.' On 17 October he navigated for the aircraft leading a formation of ninety-four Lancaster bombers in a daylight raid on the Schneider armament and locomotive works at Le Creusot, France. Despite the difficult low-level course laid down by flight planners, his navigation was so precise that the formation arrived over the target at the time ordered for the attack to begin. He received an immediate award of the Distinguished Service Order, the citation recording his ‘superb skill and determination’ (NAA A9300).

Five days later Grant was involved in a bombing raid on the Italian fleet at Genoa, Italy, where his astro-navigation skills were critical to guiding the attacking formation onto target and back to England. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He completed his first tour of operations with thirty-one sorties on 21 December 1942 and the next month was posted to the bombing development unit as acting flight lieutenant, the rank to which he was promoted on 18 August 1943.

In January 1944 Grant joined No 139 (Jamaica) Squadron, a Mosquito unit of the Pathfinder Force, for a second operational tour. Appointed acting squadron leader on 8 March, eleven days later he took part in a mission against Berlin in which his aircraft was damaged, losing its navigational system. He continued with the mission, which was successfully completed. Then he navigated the aircraft back to England without the aid of a compass, for which he was awarded a Bar to his DFC. His citation reads, in part, ‘The outstanding courage and devotion to duty of this officer have, at all times, set a fine example to all his squadron’ (NAA A9300). Transferred to No. 156 Squadron, RAF, he completed his second operational tour of fifty missions in July and the next month embarked for return to Australia. After serving on the radar staff at RAAF Headquarters, Melbourne, he was demobilised on 5 October 1945. At the Presbyterian Church, St Kilda, on 22 November 1946 he married Roma Ida Seccull, a typiste, who had been a corporal in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (1942-46). The couple were to remain childless.

Grant resumed his career with Goldsbrough Mort, working in the firm’s head office, Melbourne, until it merged with an Adelaide-based pastoral company in 1962 to become Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort Ltd. He was a director (1964-66) of the Elder, Smith & Co. arm of the business in Adelaide but resigned to join Bagot’s Executor and Trustee Co. Ltd. Ill-health compelled his retirement in 1972. Survived by his wife, he died in the Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, South Australia, on 7 September 1991 and was cremated.

Research edited by Brian Wimborne

Select Bibliography

  • Australian War Memorial. AWM65, 2393
  • Australian War Memorial. PR00058 (private records)
  • Bowman, Martin W. Last of the Lancasters. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England: Pen & Sword Aviation, 2015
  • Flight. ‘Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm News and Announcements.’ 28 December 1944, 704
  • Herington, John.  Air War Against Germany and Italy, 1939-1943, Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Vol. III of Series 3 (Air). Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1954
  • Herington, John. Air Power Over Europe, 1944-45, Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Vol. IV of Series 3 (Air). Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1963
  • National Archives of Australia. A9300, Grant A. S
  • Sydney Morning Herald. ’Australians at Lubeck.’ 11 April 1942, 11
  • Sydney Morning Herald. ‘RAAF Awards DSO and Five DFCs.’ 26 October 1942, 7.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Clark, 'Grant, Arthur Stanley (1913–1991)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/grant-arthur-stanley-26908/text34438, published online 2018, accessed online 23 October 2019.

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