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Granville, Cecil Horace Plantagenet (1877–1969)

by P. V. Vernon

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Cecil Horace Plantagenet Granville (1877-1969), soldier and farmer, was born on 26 January 1877 at Aberystwyth, Wales, son of Frederick John Granville, gentleman, and his wife Cecilia Anne, née Hook. His mother died when he was twelve days old, and his father six years later. He was brought up by an aunt, widow of Rev. Lord Charles Paulet. His brother, Charles Delabere Granville, became a rear admiral in the Royal Navy.

Granville was educated at Repton School and raised as an Anglican. As a young man he came to Sydney to stay with Lady Paulet's son-in-law, Major General E. T. H. Hutton, and then bought a small property near Scone, New South Wales. He joined the Scone Troop of the 1st Australian Horse and served as a trooper in the South African War with that regiment, taking part in actions at Driefontein, Poplar Grove, Bloemfontein and Karee Siding. He was invalided home in August 1900, resumed farming and continued his service with the 1st Australian Horse; after Federation the Scone Troop was placed in the 6th and later in the 4th Australian Light Horse (Hunter River Lancers). He was commissioned in 1904.

In 1910 Granville, who had not distinguished himself as a farmer, took up full-time work with the Australian Military Forces as an area officer at Grafton. He was promoted captain in the 6th L.H.R. in November 1912 and next year was transferred to the area office at West Maitland. After the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 14 September 1914 and was given command of 'C' Squadron, 1st Light Horse Regiment; he was promoted major in October. The regiment reached Egypt in December and in May 1915 was sent to Gallipoli as part of the 1st Light Horse Brigade, to serve in an infantry role. The 1st L.H.R. fought at Quinn's Post and Pope's Hill until September and was then moved to No.1 Outpost. Granville temporarily commanded the regiment on 6-19 November and during the evacuation was in charge of its rear party.

Once re-horsed in Egypt, the 1st L.H.R. was employed in operations against the Senussi in Upper Egypt; in May 1916 it crossed the Suez Canal and from then on was engaged in Sinai, Palestine, the Jordan Valley and Amman. Granville was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in June 1916, was temporarily in command during the battle of Romani in August, and was appointed commanding officer of the regiment in September. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel in February 1917 and commanded the 1st Light Horse Brigade for two periods in 1918. In the enemy attack on Abu Tellul in the Jordan Valley in July 1918, Granville's 1st L.H.R. was in reserve. Brigadier General C. F. Cox, on realizing that a strong German and Turkish force had penetrated far into his brigade's position, reacted swiftly. 'Get to them Granny', was his brief but comprehensive order and Granville's squadrons' 'slashing work with the bayonet' and the fire from Cox's posts brought the fight to a close.

Granville was a good horseman and horsemaster and the horses of his regiment were always one of his first concerns. He was liked as a commanding officer because of his calm, 'unflappable' temperament, and was respected as a man of courage. He would often be up with the troops when they were in action; at Romani, for example, he would stand up under machine-gun fire and walk around the positions. Apart from receiving the D.S.O. he was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Order of the Crown of Romania. On 30 November 1916, at the British Consulate, Port Said, he married Louisa Theresa Beveridge, of Junee, New South Wales, who was serving with the Red Cross Society.

On returning to Australia he became A.M.F. area officer at Granville, Sydney, in July 1919 but resigned in March 1920 and was awarded the Volunteer Officers' Decoration in 1924. He took up poultry farming near Epping, but this was unsuccessful and in the 1920s he worked for the Yellow Cab Company as a taxi-driver in Sydney. In the 1930s he bought into a timber-yard at Camden. His last years were spent at the Masonic Homes, Glenfield, Sydney. He died on 12 December 1969, his wife having predeceased him, and was cremated with Anglican rites. His only child, Richard, was killed in action in Papua in 1942 while serving as a fighter pilot with the Royal Australian Air Force.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • H. S. Gullett, The A.I.F. in Sinai and Palestine, 1914-18 (Syd, 1923)
  • P. V. Vernon (ed) The Royal New South Wales Lancers, 1885-1960 (Syd, 1961)
  • London Gazette, 3 June, 11 July 1916, 20 Sept 1919
  • private information.

Citation details

P. V. Vernon, 'Granville, Cecil Horace Plantagenet (1877–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/granville-cecil-horace-plantagenet-6458/text11057, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 16 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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