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GREY, Arthur Joseph (1876-1928)

GREY, Arthur Joseph (1876-1928)

Arthur Joseph Grey was born at Geelong on 2 December 1876, the son of Joseph Henry Grey and Mary Harriett nee Wilkinson, of Herne Hill. He was enrolled at Geelong College on 25 February 1889 and listed as re-entered in 1891. It is assumed that he continued at College until 1893 before enrolling at Scotch College from 20 August 1894 to December 1895. He served in the Anglo-Boer War.

R L Wallace wrote in The Australians at the Boer War described his wounding during the war:

'A young Victorian named A J Grey took a passage to Cape Town soon after the outbreak of the war. He joined Brabant’s Border Horse, a Cape colonial force with many young Australians in the ranks. The regiment was marching to the relief of Wepener when Grey and two other Australians went forward to reconnoitre Bushman’s Kopje. As the scouts neared the top of the kopje, they saw a Boer 600 yards away. The man fired his rifle and the three made off in the direction of their horses under fire from several hundred burghers. One of the scouts went down with a bullet through his lungs. When Grey went to his assistance a bullet snicked the badge off the side of his hat. Another scoured through the crown of his head leaving a deep groove. The shock stunned Grey and left him temporarily dazed and blinded. In his own words he ‘could hear the Melbourne trams ringing’. As soon as he recovered a little Grey managed to pull himself up by resting the butt of his rifle on the ground. Seeing this, the enemy opened fire again and shattered the breech of his rifle. The bullet glanced off and hit him on the inside of the knee, making a bad wound. As Grey dropped down behind some rocks on the kopje his left knee rested exposed, with the result that four more bullets found a mark in that one leg from just below the knee and the groin. Grey said he could hear the bullets striking the leg ‘like little stones thrown into soft mud’. The two wounded men lay down behind the rocks until dark while the other scout went for help. Grey could only move by lying on his back and pulling himself along backwards. His mate was weak from the loss of blood and could only walk a few steps at a time. Presently the two became separated in the dark. Grey crawled a mile and a half in six hours. He kept on drawing himself backwards suffering increasingly from thirst and from the wounds opening up. Fortunately he reached a spruit and gained some relief. He was crossing a mealie field when he heard voices. Grey realised these were the voices of Australians making their way to the Boer lines to look for the wounded scouts. He called frantically but got no reply, until he managed to give a ‘Coo-ee’, the call of the Australian bush. Grey was taken six miles on horseback, and suffered a painful journey in a bullock wagon to a field hospital. Eventually he returned to Melbourne on a walking stick, with four bullets still in his leg.'

Pegasus of August 1928 carried news of his death:
'After many years of suffering, Joseph Grey (Joey) passed away at Geelong in August. Many of his comrades will remember his gallant record in the Boer War, where he won distinction for himself and his school. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his widow and family.'

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great World War compiled by James Affleck. pp202-3 (citing Pegasus; R L Wallace, The Australians at the Boer War; Pegasus August 1926).
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