Viscount Gort VC GCB CBE DSO MVO MC


John Standish Surtees Prendergast Vereker Gort was a Lieutenant-Colonel when he won the VC on 27 Sep 1918. At the Canal du Nord near Flesquieres, France, Lt-Col Gort led the 1st Battalion under heavy fire and, although wounded, when the battalion was held up, he went across open ground to obtain assistance. He found a tank and directed it towards the German guns. He was wounded a second time and placed on a stretcher, but he got up and directed a further attack which was successful and resulted in the capture of 200 prisoners, two batteries of field guns and numerous machine guns. He finally allowed himself to be taken away when success had been signalled.

Gort was born on 10 Jul 1886 in London into the Prendergast Vereker noble dynasty, an old Anglo-Irish aristocratic family, and grew up in County Durham and the Isle of Wight. The family peerage, Viscount Gort, was named after Gort, a town in County Galway in the West of Ireland. In February 1946, the month before his death, he was created a Viscount in the Peerage of the United Kingdom under the same title as his existing Viscountcy in the Peerage of Ireland: upon his death on 31 March 1946 without a surviving son, the Irish Viscountcy of Gort passed to his brother, and the British creation became extinct .

As Lieutenant in the Grenadiers he attended the catafalque of King Edward VII and in the same year went moose hunting in Canada. This was a disastrous trip because he accidentally shot his native American guide and had to return to England immediately. His marriage to a second cousin was also touched with tragedy. They had 2 sons and a daughter but divorced soon afterwards. The second son died before he was two years old. The first son joined the Grenadier Guards but died in World War 2 in Feb 1941. Their daughter Jacqueline married Viscount De L' Isle. During World War 1, not only did Viscount Gort win the VC but also the MC and the DSO with 2 bars. He was mentioned in despatches 8 times.

He commanded two battalions of the Grenadiers in WW1. In April 1917 he was given command of the 4th Battalion whist still a brevet major. He was a lieutenant-colonel by July 1917. On 31 July he was wounded at Boesinghe and taken to hospital, but he was back in command in Oct 1917. On 1 Dec 1917 his battalion was in action at Gonnelieu where he was again severely wounded. On 8 March 1918 he was put in command of the 1st Battalion. On 21 Aug 1918 he was temporarily in command of the 1st Guards Brigade but had to return to command the 1st Battalion after Major Bailey was wounded at Mory Switch on 23 Aug. On 27 Sep 1918 he was wounded twice, a head wound and a severed artery in the arm, and earned the VC.

As Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Gort, in 1938, advocated the primacy of building a land army and defending France and the Low Countries over Imperial defence after France had said she on her own would not be able to defend herself against a German attack. During the war he was governor of Malta during the siege of that island. He organised the extension of the runway on reclaimed land by the sea, against British Government advice but was thanked for it afterwards.


Regimental details | Commanding Officers




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by Stephen Luscombe