John McGavock GRIDER

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John McGavock GRIDER was born on 28 May 1892 in Sans Souci, Arkansas. He married Marguerite SAMUELS in 1909 in Memphis, Tennessee. He died on 18 June , 1918 in Armentieres, France.


Burial: June 18, 1918 Armentieres, France

Military service: Abt. 1914-1918 Pilot Ace killed during WWI. The
McGavock-Grider Memorial Park south of Osceola is named in his honor.

Interest: John McGavock Grider kept a diary during WWI that was the basis of two books, "War Birds" by Elliott White Springs and "Marse John Goes to War" by his sister, Josephine Louise Grider Jacobs. The diary was a source of a lawsuit with Elliott White Springs and the subject of papers, documentaries and of great interest to historians.


Children of John McGavock Grider and Marguerite Samuels:

John McGavock GRIDER, Jr.

George William GRIDER


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.

Among the valiant Americans who were called upon to make the supreme sacrifice in the World war was John McGavock Grider, a member of the Flying Corps. He was born at Sans Souci, Arkansas, a son of William and Sue (McGavock) Grider, and in both the paternal and maternal lines he came of the old fighting stock of the sturdy Anglo-Saxon pioneers. His grandmother on the paternal side was a descendant of Daniel Boone of Kentucky. The birthplace of John M. Grider was named Sans Souci until it was merged with another family plantation, after which the town was called Grider. The McGavocks were an old Virginia family who settled in middle Tennessee in the early history of this state. They became a prosperous and prominent family of Nashville, in which city there stands today the McGavock block, named in their honor. The family record is interwoven with the history of the development of eastern Tennessee, with the period of the Civil war and the subsequent days of reconstruction.


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.
page 323
The youthful days of John McGavock Grider were spent on the old family homestead and his education was acquired in Memphis, but before completing the full high school courso he put aside his textbooks, at the age of sixteen years. In young manhood Mr. Grider was united in marriage on the 29th of March, 1909, to Miss Marguerite Samuels, a daughter of George M. and Minnie C. Samuels, the former now with the Memphis Terminal Corporation. Following their marriage the young couple went to his plantation at Grider, which he had inherited from his mother and where he engaged extensively in the production of cotton. As the years passed two interesting children were added to the household: John McGavock, who was born November 23, 1911; and George William, whose birth occurred on the 1st of October, 1913. Mr. Grider continued further to cultivate, develop and improve his plantation until after the United States entered the World war in 1917, when he was among the first to enlist. He joined the aviation service and went to the Champaign (Ill.) flying field for instruction. On the 1st of October, 1917, he was sent overseas. Mr. Grider wrote a diary which in a measure is an index to the nature of the man. After describing his sentiments and the pride and enthusiasm and deep patriotism which were awakened by hearing his national anthem played by a British band, seeing foreigners salute our country's flag, sailing out to sea on the British R. M. S. Carmania, the thrills which he experienced were reflected in these prophetie words in his diary: “I tell you there is some pleasure in losing one's life like this. I would not give it up for a hundred years of peace at home.” On his arrival in England he was transferred to the Eighty-fifth Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, under Colonel Bishop, who was commander-in-chief of the British air forces. He won a first lieutenant's commission and remained for a year in London, taking intensive training, after which the Eighty-fifth Squadron was sent to France to do special work. Among the interesting letters received by relatives was one in which he wrote: “Sherman's idea of war was all wrong. He was in the wrong branch of the service. He should have been in the air service.” [p.323]


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.

JOHN M. GRIDER


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.
page 325
[p.325] The story of his military experience has been given in a sketch published in the organ of the Memphis University School, which said: “The Memphis University School develops men of pluck and bravery, as is well illustrated by the life of John McGavock Grider. He was reared in Memphis and was a student at the Memphis University School when a young man. Here he was a participant in all athletics, especially football. He went from this school to college but decided to go into business and left school, was married and went to raising cotton at his home in Arkansas. When the United States went to war he joined the aviation service. After his training in the United States he was ordered overseas to finish his training there and was selected by Colonel Bishop for a company of dare devils which he was to command. All men selected were British aviators except three Americans, Mr. Grider being one of them. His selection for such a company shows what sort of a man and soldier Grider was. He and his companions were flying back of the lines one day when they saw a twoseater flying in the distance. They immediately went in pursuit. After a short fight Grider had the honor of shooting the Hun down. On their flight back, there being a heavy fog, he and his companions were separated. Grider's companion succeeded in finding his way back, but Grider disappeared and was never seen again. At the time of his disappearance he was one of the most promising aviators in the service. He had already four planes to his credit and was determined to down more and become an ace. Grider in his fighting displayed the principles he was taught at Memphis University School. He was one of the best liked men of his squadron.”


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.

The character of his military service is further indicated in a letter which was written to his children and which reads as follows:


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.

“No. 7 Squadron,


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.

13th August, 1918.


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.

France.


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.

My Dear John and George:


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.

I am writing to you to tell you of your father, who came out to France with us and who one day after flying for a long way over into the enemy's country, I am very sorry to say did not return; and whom, I am more sorry to tell you, neither you nor I will ever see again. Your mother will read you this letter and I dare say there are many things in it you will not understand; but she will keep it for you and later you will be able to realize it more, and you will be able to see how fine a man he was. We came out to France in the middle of last May, a new squadron under a very famous leader. The pilots were carefully chosen and with us came three Americans, one of whom was your father. All of them were very keen and none more so than he. He was always cheerful and always out to hunt the Germans. He had several fights and with two or three other pilots helped to drive down several enemy machines. And then one day he went out, a cloudy day with a strong wind blowing from the west–blowing our machines over toward Germany. And he saw an enemy machine–a two-seater high up in the sky and about fifteen miles over. With another pilot he immediately made fast, keen only on bringing it down. They soon closed in on it and, after a short fight, down he shot the German. And then they both turned to come home, battling against the strong wind. After some time the guns from the ground opened fire, and the other pilot (also an American called Springs) lost sight of him and thought he was following, for it is often difficult to see other machines in the air. He (Springs) came home, but there was no sign of your father; we waited, hoping he had landed somewhere, but no news came, and we were forced to give him up as missing and could only hope that he was at least alive and a prisoner. But we were glad for a time that before he was lost he had brought down the German. Days went by and we hoped for news. And then one day it came through that he had fallen behind the enemy's lines. I cannot tell you how sorry we were, for we had lost a very great friend, a fine pilot and a very brave soldier. And you will hardly realize the greatness of your loss, but you will remember enough of him, and your mother will tell you of him, so that you will turn out in later years as fine men as he was; and you will remember with pride how nobly he fell in the war, which I hope by the time you are grown men will be finished once and for all. And so now I will say goodbye to both of you, hoping that you will cheer up and cheer up your mother too, because, like you, she too feels very sad indeed and it is up to you to try to help her forget her sadness. And so goodbye.

Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
JOHN MCGAVOCK GRIDER.

(Signed) B. A. Baker, Captain.”


Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769—1923: Volume 4
ERNEST ANDREW TIMMONS, M. D.
page 326
After the war Colonel Bishop visited America to lecture on the air service and in an address delivered in Washington the relatives of Mr. Grider heard him give the highest praise to the three Americans whom he personally had chosen out of the great school as men of unqualified bravery, great daring and unquestioned ability, the Colonel specifically mentioning Mr. Grider and his two companions. Mr. Grider was in his element in the branch of service to which he was attached and the fascination [p.326] it had for him and the glory he felt in his opportunity to serve in this way was reflected throughout his correspondence. For a time after arriving in France the aviators were warned not to fly over the enemy lines without specific orders, but every day the three Americans would come back with their planes nicked with bullet marks, showing plainly they had been in enemy country. Knowing their true worth, their colonel pretended not to be aware of their disregard of the warning that had been given them. Of such as these three all America is proud. It is most fitting that the life story of John McGavock Grider shall find its place on the pages of Tennessee's history and that it shall constitute a crowning chapter in the annals of this state that has produced many men of notable bravery.