John Prouse GROSVENOR was born in Victor Harbor on 6 February 1922, the eldest of two children of James (Jim) Arthur GROSVENOR and Annie Marguerite GROSVENOR (nee VIRGIN). Jack, as he was known, was educated at the Victor Harbor Primary and High Schools.
Jack’s father Jim was a veteran of the First World War and had served as a driver on the Western Front with the 30th Artillery Brigade.
After leaving school, Jack joined the PMG Department was employed as a postal assistant. At the age of 19, Jack enlisted in the militia forces on 3 October 1941 and served with the 4th Lines of Communication Signals (PMG), holding the rank of signalman (S47648 Signalman JP GROSVENOR). He remained with the militia until 22 January 1943 when he enlisted in the 2nd AIF (SX19110 PTE JP GROSVENOR), serving with 34th Infantry Training Battalion at Watsonia (Vic) until the 1 August 1943 when he was discharged. The next day, Jack was enlisted into the Royal Australian Air Force.
Jack was successfully in applying for air cadet training; his first preference upon successful completion was pilot training, with his second preference for training as a wireless operator-air gunner. Posted to No 4 Initial Training School (ITS), Jack successfully completed the course and was mustered for training as a wireless operator-air gunner. Immediately upon completion of his training, Jack had seven days pre-embarkation leave and then entrained to No 2 Embarkation Depot (ED) at Bradfield Park (Sydney). On 26 November 1943, Jack boarded most likely the SS Mariposa, one of the fast ships of the Matson Line. These converted cruise liners regularly sailed across the Pacific at speeds up to 20 knots – approximately 37 kilometres per hour, and without escorts. After his arrival in Canada on 10 December 1943, Jack and his fellow recruits underwent training at No 3 Wireless School (WS) RCAF in Montreal. Following completion of his training at 3 WS, on 15 July 1944 Jack posted to No. 8 Bombing & Gunnery School, at Lethbridge, Alberta. Two months of training followed and on 17 September, he was transferred to No 1 General Depot at Lachine, Montreal, followed one month later by his transfer to No 3 Reserve Depot, Vancouver. At this time, Jack now held the rank of Sergeant, he had been promoted on 25 August 1944, the day he was awarded his Air Gunner’s Badge. Jack was to return to Australia as RAF Bomber Command in the United Kingdom had more than sufficient personnel to cover their operational squadrons. The Joint Chiefs of the Allied Command could foresee the defeat of Germany within the next 12 months and the impetus would then be on the defeat of Japan.
Disembarking in Australia on 3 December 1944 in Brisbane, Jack was granted 30 days leave. He reported to No 4 PD on 4 January 1945 and held in transit there until 1 March when he was posted as an instructor to No 1 Wireless & Air Gunnery School (WAGS) at Ballarat; Jack’s promotion to Flight Sergeant had been authorised on 25 February. He remained with the School until 25 July 1945, when his posting to No 37 Squadron’s detachment in Darwin came through.
No 37 (Transport) Squadron RAAF had been formed on 15 July 1943 at RAAF Station, Laverton. Allocated Lockheed C-60 Lodestar aircraft, the Squadron initially undertook regular courier flights across Australia. In mid-1944, the Squadron was doing ferry runs to New Guinea, initially Merauke, then Wewak, Noemfoor and Hollandia. In September 1944, 37 Squadron transferred to Essendon. In February 1945, the Squadron received it first three Douglas C-47 Dakotas. By March 1945, the Squadron had detachments based at Parafield (SA) and Morotai in the Dutch East Indies. Following the surrender of Japan, No 37 Squadron repatriated former prisoners of war from Singapore to Australia.
On 25 February 1946, Jack received his commission to the rank of Warrant Officer. He remained with 37 Squadron until 14 April when he received his demobilisation orders and proceeded to No 4 PD in Adelaide. Jack was discharged from the RAAF on 13 May 1946.
Jack rejoined the PMG-Department and served with the Department until retirement in 1982. He married Iris POWER and there were three children of the marriage; Jack died on 4 October 1985. He is buried in the Victor Harbor Cemetery.
Service file of 442442 John Prouse GROSVENOR purchased from the National Archives of Australia.
Collection of militaria and artefacts collected by JP GROSVENOR and now held by Jack’s son, Brenton Grosvenor.
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, January 2020.