Mervyn Bruce Grace

Memorial: Thornbury - St Mary's Church

Regiment: North Staffordshire Regiment

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Lieutenant

Parents: Dr Edward Mills and Annie Louise Grace

Marital status: Married

Home address: Park House, Thornbury, Bristol

Date of birth: 15/08/1889

Place of birth: Thornbury, Bristol

Date of death: 08/05/1917

Buried/Commemorated at: Templeux-Le-Guerard British Cemetery (Ref. I. E. 43.); Wrekin College Chapel

Age: 28

Further information:

Bronze Tablet and Wooden Memorial Board

Mervyn Grace’s father, Dr Edward Mills Grace, known as ‘E.M.’ or ‘The Coroner', was a medical practitioner. He was also an outstanding all round cricketer who played for Thornbury, Gloucestershire and England. He was only overshadowed by his younger brother W.G. Grace, of cricketing fame. Mervyn was the second son of E.M.’s second wife, Annie Louise, who died in 1901.
From about 1898 to 1907, Mervyn was educated at Wellington College (now Wrekin College) in Shropshire, along with three of his brothers. He was in the 1st XI at school and also played for the Thornbury Cricket Club, captained by his father. After school Mervyn was employed as a trainee engineer at the Great Western Railway works in Swindon. In May 1911 his father died and in June Mervyn left for South Africa. On his return, in late December 1912, he went into partnership with a motor expert in London

Mervyn married Dorothy Dale in 1913. They had two daughters, Dorothy born in 1914 and Marjorie in 1916

In March 1915 Mervyn was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into 2nd/6th Battalion, The Prince of Wales’s (North Staffordshire Regiment). The Battalion was in Ireland during 1916, responding to the Easter Uprising

In early 1917 the Battalion was sent into action in France. Mervyn, having been promoted to First Lieutenant, decided to put in for his captaincy and attended an Army School course. He had only been back ten days when his Battalion moved to a position near Nobescourt Farm, in preparation for a night-time attack

The assault commenced at 9.50 p.m. on 8th May. The enemy responded with heavy machine gun fire. The greater part of Mervyn’s platoon fell within minutes of going over the top. Newspapers reported 'Mervyn, at the head of his company, was wounded in the arm soon after the show began, but refused to go back; he rushed to the front again but soon after getting there the poor fellow was shot through the head and died almost immediately, after his servant, who was with him, had got him into a shell hole'

The Battalion casualties that day were, killed 2, missing 31, died of wounds 1, and wounded 47. Initially Mervyn was reported as ‘missing presumed killed’. Comments in letters to his widow included ‘how thoroughly he could be relied on and what a good soldier he was... I am sure no officer looked after his men better and was more liked by them’; ‘Your husband was a most excellent and gallant officer and we miss him very much’; ‘There are precious few men of his stamp left in the Battalion now’

Subsequently, Mervyn’s body was found and he lies in the Templeux-Le-Guerard British Cemetery

Mervyn’s younger brother, Norman Vere Grace served in the Royal Navy during and after the war, rising to the rank of Captain. His elder brother, Edgar Mervyn Grace served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. He continued his father’s medical practice in Thornbury

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Thornbury Roots website. Thornbury and District Museum Research Group. Forces War Records and the CWGC