Field Marshal 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.

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.

1886 Born 10 July
1904 RMA Woolwich, January
1905 Second Lieutenant Grenadier Guards, 16 August
1907 Lieutenant, 1 April
1910 Commanded coffin bearers at funeral of King Edward VII
1910 MVO
1910 Accidentally shot his hunting guide in Canada
1911 Married Corinna Vereker a second cousin.
1914 Captain, 5 August. BEF
1914 Staff officer First Army, December
1915 Brigade Major 4th Guards Brigade, April
1915 Military Cross, June
1916 Brevet of Major, June
1916 Fought at the Somme as staff officer HQ
1917 Acting Lt-Col, CO 4th Bn, April
1917 DSO, June
1917 Bar to his DSO at Passchendaele, September
1918 Victoria Cross, 27 Nov, Canal du Nord
1919 Second bar to his DSO, January
1919 Substantive rank of Major after Staff College, 21 Oct
1926 Colonel, April
1927 Shanghai visit
1927 Staff Officer at Colchester, July
1928 CBE
1930 Commanded the Guards Brigade
1930 India
1932 Took up flying
1935 Major-General, 25 Nov
1936 Commandant of Staff College
1937 CB
1937 Military Secretary to War Minister Hore-Belisha
1937 Army Council, 6 Dec
1937 General. Chief of Imperial General Staff
1938 KCB, 1 Jan
1939 Commanded the BEF at outbreak of War
1940 Gort evacuates the army at Dunkirk
1940 ADC to King George VI
1940 Abortive Flying Boat visit to Morocco
1940 Visited Iceland, Orkney and Shetland
1941 Governor of Gibraltar
1942 Governor of Malta during the siege
1943 Colonel Commandant of HAC
1943 Field Marshal, 20 Jun
1943 He was present at the Italian Surrender in Valetta, 29 sep
1944 High Commissioner, Palestine and Transjordan
1944 Present at the award of the VC to his so-in-law Maj William Sidney
1945 Health deteriorates, diagnosed with inoperable cancer.
1946 Died on 31 March


Regimental details | Soldiers




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by Stephen Luscombe