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Ken Grundy

History - EY History

Ken Grundy - by Jose Golding.
An obituary for my dear father 887931 Kenneth Ian Norman Grundy.

Ken Grundy died peacefully aged 90 on February 16th 2005, his last 4 years spent in a home where he was visited daily by his family.

Ken went to TA Camp in 1939, then joined the 104th (EY) RHA in the September. (the unit referred to as "The Gentleman Soldiers" - written by L.E.Tutt - Ken featured as a 'Portrait of a Specialist' - See below)

Little is known of the horse party that went abroad with the 104 Regt, after a brief introduction to 50 wild-looking horses, property of EY and a short stay at Welbeck Abbey, under the command of the late Lt 'Jimmy' Quinn and Sgt Jack Mansfield whose famous cry was 'hang on, boy' . Ken and 30 other personnel left by train to Dover (2 men & 4 horses to a truck), ship to Dunkirk, cattle trucks to Marseilles then ship to Haifa, Palestine. Having assembled order they then rode a full day's blanket ride to Tulkarm, and on to Nathanya. The horses were all groomed, shod, fed and looked immaculate. The horses of course did not and could not last in modern warfare and were eventually returned to Remount Depot.

Ken went onto the Western Desert and the Pyramids, which he scaled many times with his surveying equipment. After the Siege of Tobruk he was then posted to Burma.

After the war Ken married his fiancée of 5 yrs Joan and resumed his career as a Stockbroker in the City. Sadly Joan died 17 months earlier, Ken will always be warmly remembered by his son John and daughter Jose, 6 grandchildren and all the rest of his family.

Portrait of a Specialist
He was a stockbroker and even in the desert, his few possessions bore the touch of luxury. His pipes were from Dunhill and his parcels from home came by way of Fortnum & Mason. He was, and still is, a gentleman in every sense of the word and it was my good fortune to be very closely associated with him for the greater part of the war. He did not get a fair deal from the officers. I think that the trouble was largely due to the fact that he had been to a better public school than most of them, had a better social standing and was, in every way an embarrassment to their ordered little scheme that all gentlemen were officers and all bourgeoisie rankers.

He was the calmest man I have ever seen, sometimes infuriatingly so. When things were going wrong and officers screaming down telephones, when we were being dive-bombed or machine-gunned, he carried on as imperturbably as if he were seated at his city desk. He was tremendously popular with every member of the Battery, although a certain shyness prevented his communicating with some of the wilder element. We were of totally different upbringing and background but he paid me the unfailing compliment of always assuming that we shared the same wealth of experience and culture and that, after the war, my future was just as ordered and secure as his.

He was a tireless letter writer and was ever writing airmail letter cards home, no matter what the state of the incoming mail. His parcels from home were a joy to receive and he unfailingly shared them, all that is, save the pipe tobacco which made life tolerable for him. On the break out from Tobruck it happened that he just received a parcel before we moved up into our new position. We were being heavily shelled, and were confined to a small depression in the ground. There were some tanks skulking about and, although we assumed them to be ours, they were in fact British tanks, which had been captured and were being used by the enemy to confuse things. We sat in our little hole and Ken opened his parcel. We had tinned chicken and asparagus tips, Ken apologising gravely for the fact that there was no melted butter to serve with them, a brew of Nescafe, the first time I had seen it and some Bath Olivers. We ate with timeless ease as if we were seated in his Club. It was an exquisite moment, enhanced by the absurdity of our surroundings.
Photo: K Grundy
I only once saw Ken remotely losing his temper. It was much later on when we were in Burma. He considered that an officer had behaved badly. In fact he had abandoned a truck containing Ken and some other men at a time when it was being attacked. Ken was wounded, as were some of the others and one was killed. I saw Ken, before he was taken away. He described the incident and said
“You know something Dump? If I meet that man in Civvy Street I don’t think that I will be able to bring myself to speak to him”.
Coming from him this was the biggest condemnation possible.

He was responsible for a great deal of complicated work, which had to prepare and then pass to the Gun Positions. From time to time some cowboy of a G.P.O. Ack would ring back to protest that Ken was wrong. They were a little apt to think of themselves as the ultimate authority in everything. Working so near the guns they got the impression that they were the be all and end all of the Battery. Let it also be said that they were often wrong. Ken would deal with them patiently, speaking to them as if they were fractious children at the end of a wearying day. He explained and pointed out and generally put them to right. He did this gently and kindly, when anyone else would have just banged down the receiver and let them go to Hell. It was an education to see the masterly way in which he, unobtrusively, put an officer right in a calculation or corrected a wrong method of procedure. In any other unit he would have been pulled out and sent to O.C.T.U. immediately, with his flair for administrative detail he would have made an excellent officer in the planning side.

True he had once been up before the Colonel, before war broke out this was, and interviewed for selection for officer training. He said that the interview had hardly got under way before it died the death. In rapid succession he admitted that he had never hunted, shot, fished, or done any of the things so necessary to life on the battlefield. Anyone else would have lied, recognising the interview for the farce, which it was, but not Ken, he was too honest.

When we got in regular officers as replacements for casualties they were quick to recognise the officer potential going to waste and a large number of chaps got their chance. But it was too late for Ken, he was recognised as being indispensable.

Time mellowed him even more. At our reunions his is the first face I look for. It will be a very sad day when I don’t catch his eye, see him give his shy smile and hear him say, “Hello Dump, It IS good to see you again”. written by L.E.Tutt - Ken featured as a 'Portrait of a Specialist'
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