Grey, George Charles
He was the elder son of Major-General Wulff Henry Grey CB, CMG, RE, of South Kensington, London, and Alix Grey, the daughter of Charles Lennox Simpson, Senior Commissioner of Customs, China. He came into Mr. F.W. Goddard’s House from Durnford School at Langton Matravers in Dorset, in September 1932.
He always intended to adopt a political career; a tribute in The Times stated: “Ever since the 1931 election, when he braved public opinion at his private school by flaunting the Liberal colours, he was a devoted and unswervingly faithful adherent of the Liberal Party.”
On leaving Winchester in July 1937, Grey went for a year to Berlin University, before going up to Hertford College, Oxford where in 1938 he was elected Honorary Secretary of the Union.
In 1938 he joined the Supplementary Reserve of the Grenadier Guards. He served in France in 1940 before taking part in the evacuation from Dunkirk.
In August 1941, when there was a parliamentary vacancy at Berwick-on-Tweed, Grey was returned unopposed as a Liberal, becoming, at the age of 22, the youngest MP of the 20th century.
On 15th October 1940 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards was formed at Wanstead. Grey was posted to this Battalion, which spent the next eleven months defending London and assisting the civil authorities.
By 1943 the unit had re-equipped with Churchill tanks and in the spring of that year moved to Wenslydale for training. In 1943 Grey was promoted captain and the battalion moved again, this time to Welbeck Abbey, where over the winter of 1943, the 4th Grenadier Guards heard they might not be fighting as armoured troops at all. Ivor Crosthwaite DSO (OC No.3 Squadron), recalled in his memoirs “A Charmed Life“, 1996: “The Brigade was to be broken up and used as reinforcements, perhaps even for infantry battalions. Appeal was made to Churchill. He over-ruled Monty. George Grey, my own second-in-command and the youngest MP in the house, personally bearded Churchill. I’m told the finally decisive influence was that of Jock Colville, Private Secretary to Churchill and brother of our Adjutant.”
In early May 1944, 4th Grenadier Guards set out for the south coast, being quartered at Otterden in Kent. The second-in-command of the battalion was a Wykehamist, Major Cecil Martin Fothergill Deakin (H1924-1929), later to become a Major-General.
On June 6th news of the invasion of France came, although the battalion did not leave until the third week in July. Grey’s combat career in Normandy was to end before the month was out. The Grenadiers were to take part in Operation Bluecoat, starting with the capture of Lutain Wood and the village of Sept Vents, and moving on to capture Hill 309 across the valley.
They achieved this within half an hour. At 8 a.m. the first tanks appeared over the skyline and by 8.30 both the wood and the village were in the hands of 4th Battalion. Tragically, in that half hour Grey had been killed, shot through the head by a sniper.
Grey was buried by his crew where he fell, at Le Repas, Livry, and the grave has been left in situ, unlike so many which were consolidated after the war. It is known as the “Grey Memorial” or “Livry Isolated Grave”. The stone for the cross came from the Houses of Parliament.
- Surname: Grey
- Forenames or initials: George Charles
- House: D
- Years in School: 1932-1937
- Rank: Captain
- Regiment: 4th Armoured Battalion, Grenadier Guards
- Date of Birth: 2nd December 1918
- Date of Death: 30th July 1944
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner A1
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: Livry Isolated Grave, Le Repas, Livry, Normandy