One of the Corps' legends has died aged 104. A true Airborne Sapper:

Major General Ian Lyall Grant, commander of engineers in Burma who reconnoitred and built tracks for troops while under enemy fire

Major General Ian Lyall Grant, who has died aged 104, won an MC in Burma in 1944, was Colonel of the Royal Engineers, co-founded the Japanese Reconciliation Association, qualified as a gemmologist and wrote two well regarded books about the Burma campaign.
Lyall Grant commanded 70 (King George V’s Own) Independent Field Company Indian Engineers (70 IFC) between 1942 and 1944. On operations in the Chin Hills, he was always at the forefront of his assault engineers during attacks against the Japanese.
In one of these attacks, at great personal risk, he went forward to reconnoitre the enemy’s defences and returned with information which played an important part in the success of the offensive.
In 17 Indian Division’s move from Tiddim to Imphal, his Company built tracks for the forward attacking troops while under persistent small arms and shellfire. His courage and inspiring leadership were recognised by the award of an MC.

Ian Hallam Lyall Grant, the son of Colonel HF Lyall Grant DSO, a gunner officer, was born at New Malden, Surrey, on June 4 1915. He was educated at Cheltenham College before attending RMA Woolwich like his father.
After being commissioned in 1935, he took a three-year Young Officers’ course at Chatham and Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University. In 1938, when he was seconded to the Indian Army, he and three other young officers drove by car to India. He was posted to 3 Field Company KGVO Bengal Sappers and Miners and served on the North West Frontier for two years.
In 1941 he raised 70 IFC at Roorkee, north India. They landed at Rangoon in March the following year and joined 17 Indian Division. After a spell in England commanding the Engineer Officers Training School, in 1945 he was posted to HQ 17 Indian Division and moved to Japan to join the British Commonwealth Occupation Force.
Lyall Grant instructed at RMA Sandhurst before attending Staff College. He commanded 9 Independent Parachute Squadron RE in Cyprus and Egypt between 1951 and 1953. He was twice mentioned in despatches.

He served as AQMG at 16 Airborne Division (TA), and in 1955 assumed command of 131 Airborne Engineer Regt (TA). Two years at the MOD led to promotion to brigadier and a posting to HQ Mideast, Aden.
He was commandant of the Royal School of Military Engineering at Chatham before returning to the MOD as DQMG. In 1970 he retired from the Army and for the next five years he worked at the MOD as director general of supply co-ordination, a civil service job.
He was a consultant to a defence company from 1976 to 1980 and then supported his wife’s gemstone business. Both of them qualified as gemmologists and travelled all over the world in search of gems. He listed sailing, fly-fishing and adventurous travel among his interests.
Lyall Grant co-founded the Japanese Reconciliation Association and was chairman and president. The aim of the group was to help to reconcile those who had fought each other in Burma in the Second World War. Parties of veterans visited Japan and received a very warm welcome and groups of Japanese were hosted in England.
From 1972 to 1977, he was Colonel Commandant RE and, for several years, he was chairman and president of the Bengal Sappers Officers’ Association. He wrote and published Burma: The Turning Point (1993) and, with Kazuo Tamayama, Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion (1999).
Ian Lyall Grant married, in 1951, Jenny Moore. She died in 2007 and he is survived by their two daughters and their son, Mark, who was Ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2015.
Ian Lyall Grant, born June 4 1915, died on February 29 2020


The reconciliation idea took a great deal of something?, perhaps morale fortitude, bravery, humility, courage, understanding, forgiveness, I really can’t say, but given the feelings of many of that generation towards the Japanese he must have been pretty outstanding to even attempt it.

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