CSM George Gristock VC, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Norfolk Regiment

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I have the citation etc but does anyone have a map of the Tournai area at the time of his action that earned him a VC with appropriate makings?

    I would like to visit the location and get some pictures etc.

  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    From the London Gazette:

    For most conspicuous gallantry on the 21st May 1940 when his company was holding a position on the line of the River Escaut, south of Tournai. After a prolonged attack, the enemy succeeded in breaking through beyond the company's right flank which was consequently threatened. Company Sergeant-Major Gristock having organised a party of eight riflemen from company headquarters, went forward to cover the right flank.

    Realising that an enemy machine-gun had moved forward to a position from which it was inflicting heavy casualties on his company, Company Sergeant-Major Gristock went on, with one man as connecting file, to try to put it out of action. Whilst advancing, he came under heavy machine-gun fire from the opposite bank and was severely wounded in both legs, his right knee being badly smashed. He nevertheless gained his fire position, some twenty yards from the enemy machine-gun post, undetected, and by well aimed rapid fire killed the machine-gun crew of four and put their gun out of action. He then dragged himself back to the right flank position from which he refused to be evacuated until contact with the battalion on the right had been established and the line once more made good.

    By his gallant action, the position of the company was secured, and many casualties prevented. Company Sergeant-Major Gristock has since died of his wounds.

    Can anyone do any better ref a map or location ?

  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    At the Sharp End by Peter Hart has an account by Captain Peter Barclay MC who was(?) Gristock's Coy commander's.

    Clues include:
    2 R Norfolk took over a position from a R Berkshires battalion.
    Coy positions were D right, A centre, B left, C reserve.
    One A Coy section was in an 'old cement factory'*
    Some of A Coy's positions were in the park of a chateau.
    There was a blitzed bridge in the centre of A Coy's position.
    There was a 'plantation' on the opposite bank.
    Coy HQ was in the vicinity of a railway line.*
    A map shows the position South of Tournai and West of Froidment, but it is very sketchy.

    * Elements of this story remind me of (IIRC) that BBC drama documentary 'Dunkirk' a few years ago. I can recall a veteran at a factory and that may be the Ernie Leggett of A Coy who is also quoted in the book.

    Apologies in advance if my skimming has missed a village name or grid reference...
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Many thanks...Does it mention what Coy Gristock was in?
  5. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    Look on GoogleEarth. Just a suggestion, not meant to sound flippant!

    The cement factory is HUGE. I can also see a chateau. However, these are NORTH of the river, SOUTH EAST of the town.

    I'll keep looking for other things mentioned in Idler's post

  6. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    OK, can also see what may have appeared like a 'plantation', so many years ago, on the other banl of the river, away from where your guys were located. I can also see a bridge very close by, which may be post war. Got the railway line too now, it runs beside the cement factory

    hope it helps

    cant remember how to post co-ords

    hang on

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  7. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member


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  8. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Drew: everything points to Gristock being A Coy CSM. He and Leggett ended up in the same hospital this side of the channel, with Leggett visiting him daily until he died.

    Sebag-Montefiore states the position as north of Chercq (courtesy of GoogleBooks), tying in nicely with AHD's GoogleEarthing. However, At the Sharp End suggests we were on the SW bank with the Germans coming from the NE. There are a few R Norfolk graves in Chercq churchyard, but they aren't the majority.

    Barclay also makes the observation that his Coy's frontage was 700-800 yards.

    On GE there is another bridge approx 2000m NW of the Chercq bridge. If the Norfolks were N of Chercq with a bridge in the middle of the A Coy position, this might be a contender (notwithstanding 70 years of terraforming). It looks like an old railway line and, running at right angles to the front, it tallies with Leggett's account of him crawling along it to Coy HQ. Gristock's action was on the right flank of A Coy which sadly puts what appears to be a sewage works in the way - from VC to WC!

    Now to see if the BBC Dunkirk has been YouTubed...

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  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers all :)

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    Not a massive help, but you may glean something from it...the battalion War diary...

    Attached Files:

  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Thought I'd bump this up incase anyone has any further info.
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  13. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Hello Drew
    I know this is an old thread, but I thought you might be interested in the attached picture, it is of the Sergeants Mess 5th Bn Norfolks taken in 1937. It features my grandfather and also I believe a certain George Gristock VC. Far right standing?

    Sorry I will try that picture again...

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  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Just a gentle nudge in case anyone has anything to add regarding maps and locations as I'm going there next week.

    Recce_Mitch likes this.
  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thought you might like a piccy of the man

    UK, Victoria Cross Medals, 1857-2007
    Name: George Gristock
    Birth Date: 14 Jan 1905
    Birth Place: Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa
    Death Date: 16 Jun 1940
    Death Place: Brighton Hospital, Sussex


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