British Army Major who fought in World War Two’s southern front dies at 97

A British Army Major General who led a battalion across Sicily on World War Two’s southern front has died at the age of 97.

Major General Michael Grigg was awarded an MC for his role in Sicily and later went on to become the Zambian Army’s first Major General.

Michael Grigg was born in London in 1917 and after attending school at Eton was accepted at Sandhurst the British Army’s training college.

When he qualified Michael was transferred into the Seaforth Highlanders.

Before the war began, in 1938, Michael was serving in Asia, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, and India. Michael saw action in 1942, when he was part of the Allied attack on Madagascar, as well as in North Africa.

During World War Two, Michael was given command of the 6th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders and in July of 1943 was sent to Sicily to support allied troops pushing German and Italian forces back towards mainland Europe.

Michael’s battalion were given a specific mission to capture a battery of German guns which were located on the hillside near the coastal village of Cassibile, near Syracuse.

The battalion were parachuted into Sicily, but the aircraft pilots dropped the men too soon and before they could reach land. Many landed in the water and a nearby Allied landing craft was still minutes away, so many of the men made their way haphazardly to the shore. While the beach was not occupied by German troops, the grassy fields beyond the beach were laden with mines. Michael remembered the cries of dying men in the water and from the mines.

The battalion fought on and they advanced towards Augusta where they came under heavy attack. The battalion fought back and destroyed all of the German machine gun posts. It was for this offensive that Michael was awarded the MC.

As the war came to an end Michael was based in Germany. He recalled how on a patrol one night with his battalion he had to find their way back through a minefield, where he led the way. Michael one commented that this kind of action was far more dangerous than for that which he was decorated for.

After the war Michael was transferred back to Singapore where he served with the King’s African Rifles. By 1955 he resigned and joined the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army, The Telegraph reports.

Michael was appointed major general of Zambia in 1964 when the country achieved independence. Michael was awarded with a CBE in 1965 and retired in 1967. He died this year at the age of 97.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE