In this article we remember Coy Sgt Felix Grant (43), B Coy 33 Inf Bn, he was the first member of the DF to die on UN service.
He deployed to the Congo on 19 Aug 1960 and during the last few days of Sep, he was ill but he remained on duty. On Saturday 1 Oct he was overcome with severe pain in his stomach and he was evacuated by aircraft from Manono to Albertvill. He was operated on for appendicitis at the King Albert Hospital, Albertville but he died on Monday 3 Oct 1960. He was born in Ballymagross, Downpatrick, Co Down in 1917 and he enlisted in the DF in Limerick in 1940. He had served with 1 Fd Arty Regt, 13 Inf Bn and 12 Inf Bn, Kickham Bks, Clonmel.
He married Catherine Lillis in Clonmel in 1945 and they had three children, two sons William and Felix Anthony (twins aged 13) and a daughter, Margaret (11).
Coy Sgt Grant’s remains were temporarily interred at Albertville before being repatriated on Tuesday 25 Oct through Dublin Airport. A guard of honour from CTD (S) under Lt Frank Colclough rendered honours at the airport before the cortege travelled to the Garrison Church at Kickham Bks Clonmel. The coffin was met on the outskirts of the town by an escort from 12 Inf Bn under the command of Lt L Fitzgerald.
On 26 Oct, Requiem Mass was celebrated by Fr J Morrissey CF Kickham Bks. The chief mourners were Mrs Catherine Grant and her children William, Felix Anthony and Margaret, Francis and Anthony Grant (brothers) and Mrs Mary McCartan (sister). President Eamon de Valera was represented by Col PJ Whelan, Lt Col J Casseley represented the Minister for Defence and the military mourners included Maj Gen Sean MacEoin COS, Col Sean Collins-Powell QMG, Col P Curran OC S Comd and Lt Col J O’Reilly OC 12 Inf Bn. Fr P Duffy Acting HCF and Fr J Morrissey CF officiated at t he graveside at St Patrick’s Cemetery Clonmel.
The two boys, Felix Anthony (Tony) and Willam (Billy) later enlisted at the AAS at Devoy Bks, Naas and served for some years in the DF. Tony served with the Engr Corps (Dep Engrs) and with the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and with the UN Emergency Force in the Sinai (UNEF 11), (25 Inf Gp). He is a member of IUNVA Post 24 in Clonmel, he lives in Co Limerick.
Coy Sgt Grant was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal With Merit, the citation reads:
“For distinguished service with the United Nations Force in the Republic of the Congo, for devotion to duty and zeal of a high order. He continued to discharge his duties in an exemplary and devoted manner although suffering from an illness which eventually caused his death.”
On 29 May 2003, in a ceremony at Cathal Brugha Bks, the Minister for Defence Michael Smith, presented the Dag Hammarskjold Medal to the next of kin of eighty-three members of the DF who lost their lives while on United Nations service. Coy Sgt Grant’s fifteen year-old granddaughter Janette Penkert accepted the award on behalf of her grandmother Catherine Grant.
Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dhílis