Lieutenant Oswald Wetherald Grant, MC was born in Almont, Ontario on 27 December 1892, the oldest son of the Reverend Dr. Andrew Shaw and Caroline Alberta (Wetherald) Grant. He had a sister, Caroline, and two brothers, James Wetherald and Alan Fraser.
Reverend Grant was a Presbyterian Minister. The family lived in Almonte until 1896, when they moved to Toronto, Ontario. From Toronto, Rev Grant moved his family to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, where he played a prominent role in the development of that community during the Klondike Gold Rush. Rev Grant, who had studied medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and is described as having been a man of “strong physique and determined will”, is credited by Major General Sir Samuel Benfield Steele with saving the lives of members of the Dawson Detachment of the North-West Mounted Police and was recognized as a large factor in making Dawson City one of the most orderly mining camps of its size in the world. He built the Good Samaritan Hospital and was the Pastor at St. Andrew’s Church in Dawson City. After about 10 years in Dawson, Rev Grant moved his family back to the Toronto and the family was living in Toronto when Grant enlisted.
Grant attended Dawson Public School in Dawson City and Upper Canada College in Toronto. He graduated from University College at the University of Toronto with a BA in June of 1914, with his brother James. Grant was admitted to the Law Society of Upper Canada as a student in 1914. Law Society records show that he was articling under G.S. Hodgson of the firm Dewart, Maw & Hodgson in Toronto.
After his first year at the Ontario Law School, Grant enlisted with the CEF. In September of 1914, he enlisted as a Lieutenant with the 33rd Battalion, which was based in London, Ontario and recruited in and around London. Grant went overseas with the 33rd Battalion’s First Reinforcing Draft in June of 1915.
In England, Grant was taken on strength with the 12th Reserve Battalion in August of 1915. From the 12th Reserve Battalion, Grant was taken on strength with the 1st Battalion in September of 1915. The 1st Battalion was created on 2 September 1914 with recruits from Western Ontario. The 1st Battalion arrived in England on 14 October 1914 and fought as part of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. Law Society of Upper Canada student Lieutenant Arthur Patrick Wilson, MC was also a member of the 1st Battalion.
In May of 1916, Grant was appointed Brigade Bombing Officer for the 1st Brigade, but later returned to the 1st Battalion as Machine Gun Officer. On 13 June 1916, he was killed by a shell while he was holding an advanced machine gun position during the battle of Mont Sorrel at the age of 23.
Grant’s body was not recovered. He is memorialized at the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium. The Menin Gate Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town of Ieper (formerly Ypres) in Belgium, on the road to Menin and Courtrai. It bears the names of 55,000 men who were lost without trace during the defence of the Ypres Salient in WWI.
On 1 January 1917, Grant was awarded the Military Cross. The Military Cross was created in December of 1914 to recognize “an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land”. Grant had been recommended for the award shortly before his death for general good service rendered in the field.
Grant had served in the Militia with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and commissioned with the 27th Lambton Regiment prior to enlisting with the CEF. He had also been an Army Cadet.* Cadets were taught drill and marksmanship, but were not required to be employed in active service.
*Likely at Upper Canada College.
Shea, E. Patrick; Gowling, Lafleur, Henderson (Firm); and Highlanders Foundation, “The Great War Law Student Memorial Project” (2014). Digital Texts. 2.