War hero by a nose

Nick Gratwick has revealed a family connection in which he takes great pride.
Nick Gratwick has revealed a family connection in which he takes great pride.

The Gingin District High School Year 10 student’s great-great uncle, Percival (Percy) Eric Gratwick, received a Victoria Cross ” the highest military honour for bravery ” posthumously in 1942 for his courageous actions when he was under fire in El Alamein, Egypt, during World War II.

Mr Gratwick, born in 1902, almost did not realise his dream of joining the army when he was rejected because of a crooked nose, courtesy of an earlier break.

He spent a lot of money to get it fixed and was finally accepted in late 1940 at the age of 38.

When his training was competed in July, 1941, Mr Gratwick was posted in Libya and assigned to the 2/48th Battalion with the rank of private.

The battalion was among the defenders of Tobruk but was transferred to Palestine in October, 1941.

By October, 1942, the battalion was in Egypt and under attack.

One night at Miteiriya Ridge, Mr Gratwick’s platoon suffered casualties, including the platoon commander and sergeant.

Mr Gratwick took command and charged a German machine-gun position by himself and killed the crew with hand grenades. He also killed a mortar crew.

Under heavy machine-gun fire, he then charged a second post, using his rifle and bayonet. However, this time he was shot and killed.

Nick said he was proud of his relative for what he did.

He said his great-great uncle was also a blacksmith and messenger for Parliament House before he joined the army.