MYSTERY IN PORTHCAWL
on March 12th Police Superintendent May received details that a woman
in Porthcawl had been shot by a German prisoner on the run. The woman, Mrs Lily
Grossley, was not dead but doctors were fighting for her life.
In her initial police statement, she claimed that German prisoners had shot
her when she refused to give them her handbag. Her husband, Howard Grossley,
was also involved in the incident, but he was unharmed and the prisoners had
However, by the next morning Tuesday 13th March 1945, police had started to
unfold an unusual story.
Howard Grossley was a Canadian soldier with a wife in Canada. Mrs Lily Grossley
was not Mrs Grossley at all. Her real name was Lily Griffiths, and
she and Howard Grossley had been living together and were the parents of a two
year old son.
was A.W.L. (Absent Without Leave) from the army and was staying in a guest house
in Porthcawl which is only a few miles from Island Farm.
Howard Grossley gave a police statement that claimed that on the night of the12th
March 1945, he and Lily were taking a late night walk. Whilst walking down a
lane near to the guest house, they had been threatened by German POWs who tried
to steal Lily's handbag. In defense Howard Grossley had used his revolver, which
he was carrying, to threaten the POWs away. However, as the POWs had made their
escape down the lane, Howard Grossley had fired a shot and in so doing had inadvertently
shot Lily Griffiths.
Initially, Lily Griffiths backed up Howard Grossley's statement. But as the
realisation that her injuries were more serious, she changed her statement,
maybe in an attempt to help Howard from imprisonment.
In her revised statement, Lily Griffiths stated that Howard Grossley was extremely
- He had previously
suffered horrific phospherous burns to his back, was in constant pain and
was therefore on high medication.
- On the night of the
shooting he had been drinking which mixed with any medication could have
enhanced his depression or affected the way he was feeling.
- He was A.W.L. from
the army and he hated the shame of this.
- He hated having to
lead his double life due to the fact that he was already married.
stated that, whilst walking, Howard Grossley said that he was going to end his
life. During a wrestle for the gun, as Lily tried to stop Howard killing himself,
he had inadvertently shot her.
died Friday 16th March 1945 as a consequence of the gun shot (collapsed and
septic lung) and Howard Grossley was charged with her murder.
was held at Cardiff Prison and stood trial on the 11th and 12th July 1945 at
the Glamorgan Assizes Swansea charged as:
Joseph Grossley on the 12th day of March 1945, in the County of Glamorgan, murdered
"Not Guilty". The presiding judge was J. Singleton and Howard Grossley
was represented by Messrs. Stockwood & Williams of 3 Court Road, Bridgend.
- Arthur Gordon Thomas
- Police Detective Sgt - Canton Cardiff
- Catherine Davies (Lily
Griffiths' sister) - Wife of Clifford Davies - Cwmaman, Aberdare.
- Jennie Blodwen Atkinson
- Guest House Owner and Wife of Ernest Atkinson - Porthcawl
- Shirley Jones - Single
woman - Porthcawl
- William Rees Thomas
- Taxi Proprietor - Porthcawl
- John Carter Clare
- Watch repairer - Porthcawl
- Lilian Elizabeth Harvey
- Single Woman - Porthcawl
- Lilian Violet Newlyn
- Wife of Henry Charles Newlyn - Porthcawl
- Frank Stanley Rowe
- Mason - Porthcawl.
- Jethroe Gough - Doctor
of Medicene - Whitchurch , Cardiff
- Authur James Speck
- Gas Fitter - Porthcawl
- Thomas Lewis - Police
Constable - Porthcawl Police Station
- Thomas Nicholas -
War Reserve Contable (W.R.C) - Porthcawl Police Station
- William Matthews -
Police Inspector - Porthcawl Police Station
- Robert Hodkinson -
General Practitioner - Porthcawl
- Beryl Edwards - Nurse
- Bridgend & District Hospital
- Lancelot Douglas Bailey
- Police Detective Inspector - Port Talbot
- William Heap - Police
Detective Sgt. - Bridgend
- George Edward Lewis
Carter - Staff Chemist - Cardiff
- Francis Edward Morton
- Firearms Shooter & Tester - Birmingham
The trial lasted two days and on the 12th July 1945, Howard Grossley
was found guilty of the murder of Lily Griffiths. He appealed and his appeal
was heard on 21st August 1945. However, the verdict of murder was upheld and
Howard Grossley was sentenced to death by hanging 5th September 1945
(aged 37 years). His body was buried within the Cardiff Prison Cemetery....or
was it ?
If Howard Grossley's body
is what lies buried in the grounds of Cardiff Prison, then who is the person
honoured in Brookwood Memorial War Cemetery in Surrey ? He shares the same name
and service number as Howard Grossley but apparently died EXACTLY two
years earlier in combat....
War Cemetery, Surrey
by red arrow, Howard Grossley's name
exists on cemetery wall
to see the above on the actual War Graves Comission web site
Related Link: 6th October 2003, BBC News web site: Howard
Grossley's body is to be exhumed to permit the building of a new cell block
at Cardiff Prison. Click here
to view BBC web page.
NAME: Bombardier JOSEPH HOWARD GROSSLEY
Unit: RCA (Royal Canadian Army) 2nd Division
DATE OF BIRTH: 25th
PLACE OF BIRTH: Verdun,
DATE OF DEATH: 5th
September 1945 - (Judicial
Hanging – on strength of Forces H.Q. 405-G-1301)
OF DEATH: Cardiff
buried within precincts of Cardiff Prison Cemetery)
EYE COLOUR: Blue
Viens (14 E Spring Street, Winooski, Vermont, USA
OF KIN: Mrs
Marie Goulet Grossley (Wife),
Burlington, Vermont, USA.
BUSINESS OR PROFESSIONAL:
TRADE OR CIVIL:
French, Spanish & English
3 years Burlington High School, Graduated in 1921
4 years public
Music, Swimming, golf, Soccer and hockey
active Service Force
S.O.S. - Struck
T.O.S. - Taken
R.C.A. - Royal
A.W.L. - Absent
#1.C.A.H.U - No
1. Canadian Artillery Holding Unit
C.M.H.Q. - Canadian
Medical Head Quarters
S.I.Q. - Sick
N.C.O. - Non
P.L. - Personal
C.V.S.M. - Canadian
Volunteer Service Medal
– 1933 employed by F. Viens as a Grocery store clerk in Winooski, Vermont,
U.S.A and earned $18 per week. (Family shopped owned by foster parents)
– 1937 Employed by Underwood & Elliot-Fisher Typewriters Co (Hartford,
Connecticut, USA) and worked in the factory as a Drill Press Operator
and earned $55 per week.
into the army 22nd July 1940 having previously been employed
by the City of Montreal as a Park Supervisor for 3 years earning a weekly
wage of $37.50
July 1940, District depot No. 4 Camp C.A.S.F. (Canadian
Active Service Force)
August 1940 Attached for all purposes to Petawawa Military Camp, Petawawa,
- 4th August 1940: Taken On Strength (T.O.S)
Royal Canadian Artillery (R.C.A) 2nd Canadian Division.
- 4th August 1940: Staff car driver
- 21 August 1940: Struck Off Strength (S.O.S) of C.A.S.F.
(Canadian Active Service Force)
August 1940 Embarkation at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
September 1940: Disembarkation at Gourock, Glasgow, Scotland, Great
September 1940: Staff car driver
1940: Service Record makes initial reference to being based at Aldershot,
October 1940: Received 168 hours detention and forfeits 12 days pay for
going A.W.L. (Absent Without Leave)
October 1940: Admitted to Duke of Connought Hospital, Aldershot,
October 1940: Placed under hospital stoppage of pay
December 1940: Medical category changed from “B2” to “C2”
– 26th December 1940: Privileged Leave.
October 1940: Hospital stoppages (14 days).
February 1941: S.O.S to No.1 Canadian
Artillery Holding Unit (#1.C.A.H.U), medical category C2 as a training
February 1941 T.O.S from HQ (headquarters) 2nd Division
March – 2nd April 1941: Privileged leave
April 1941: S.O.S to Canadian Medical Head Quarters (C.M.H.Q)
April 1941: Service record starts to detail his location as Acton (neighbourhood
April 1941: T.O.S. on re-posting from Artillery Holding Unit (A.H.U)
April 1941: Granted SUB-ALL 794(2)(B)
May 1941: Sick in Quarters
June 1941; Received treatment as an outpatient at Ducane Hospital,
July 1941: Qualified group C trades pay (RO599)
Group B trades Pay (RO599)
July 1941: To draw Group C trades pay
September 1941: To be acting bombardier
– 7th October 1941: Granted leave of absence
December 1941 : Confirmed bombardier
December 1941: Admitted to No. 5 General Hospital
December 1941: Discharged from No. 5 General Hospital
December 1941: Granted sick lave until 22nd December 1941
February 1942: Provisional leave 11th February 1942 – 18th
February 1942 4.4 no warrant.
February 1942: Return from leave
- 4th April
1942: Sick in Quarters (S.I.Q.) 10:00Hrs
- 9th April
1942: Returned 08:30Hrs
May 1942: S.I.Q.
May 1942: Ceases S.I.Q.
May 1942: Granted P.5 leave to 27th May 1945 (no FTW)
May 1942: Returned from leave
- 8th -
9th June 1942: S.I.Q.
- 20th June 1942: S.I.Q.
- 3rd July
1942 – 4th July 1942: SIQ
- 10th July
1942: Qualified as clerk Group C
July 1942: Admitted to No. 5 General Hospital
July 1942: Discharged from No 5. General Hospital
- 3rd August
1942: Privileged leave granted until 10th August
August 1942: Return from leave 08:29Hrs
August 1942: S.I.Q. until 08:20 Hrs 25th August
- 2nd September
1942: S.I.Q. until 08:20Hrs 3rd September
October 1942: Granted 7 days P.L (personal leave) until 4th
October 1942: S.I.Q. until 08:15Hrs 27th October 1942
- 4th November
1942: Returned from P.L.
November 1942: Qualified as a clerk group B
November 1942: Granted tradesmen’s rate of pay Group B (Clerk)
- 7th December
1942: S.I.Q. 10:00 Hrs until 08:15Hrs 8th December 1942
given 12th January 1943:
built, clean cut N.C.O somewhat worried about his general state of health
and the care of his son worries him. Separated before he joined up, he made
a false statement about his marital status. The Government caught up with
him, cut off the allowance, which he is now paying back to the Government.
He is now unable to do much for his son. Apart from these problems he is happy
in his work.
January 1943: Granted 7 days P.L 27th January 1943 – 3rd
April 1943: Granted 7 days P.L to 5th May 1943
July 1943: P.L. until 6th August 1943
August 1943: Admitted to No. 10 General Hospital
August 1943: Discharged from hospital
October 1943: P.L. to 3rd November 1943
November 1943: Admitted to No. 10 General Hospital
November 1943: Discharged from hospital
January 1944: Awarded “The Canadian Volunteer Service Medal & Clasp”(C.V.S.M.)
February 1944: PL until 9th February 1944
March 1944: Admitted to No. 10 General Hospital
March 1944: SOS to Canadian Medical Head Quarters (C.M.H.Q.) “Y3” list
March 1944: T.O.S. from Records Office. CMHQ
March 1944: Ceases to draw SUB-ALLS
March 1944: Discharged from hospital
March 1944: S.O.S to Records CMHQ
March 1944: T.O.S. from C.M.H.Q. “Y3” list (Group B Clerk)
March 1944: Authorised to draw SUB-ALLS
September 1944: P.L. until 23rd September 1944
January 1945: P.L. until 26th January 1945
January 1945: Abscent Without Leave (A.W.L.) from 08:16Hrs
January 1945: Ceases to draw SUB ALLS
February 1945: Still A.W.L. 08:16Hrs (8th Day)
February 1945: Still A.W.L. 08:16Hrs (22nd Day)
February 1945: S.O.S. Deserter (Deficiencies in kit to the value of $15.99)
March 1945: T.O.S. on being apprehended
by Civil Police and held in Civil Custody 23:59Hrs
at Cardiff Prison.
“Howard Joseph Grossley on the 12th day of March 1945,
in the County of Glamorgan, murdered Lily Griffiths”
& 12th July 1945
judge J. Singleton
Messrs Stockwood & Williams Solicitors, 3 Court Road, Bridgend
August 1945 – Appeal hearing
September 1945 – S.O.S. Deceased. Died by Judicial Hanging (age: 37 years)
Grossley's medals and awards were forfeited upon his execution
the medal was usually awarded to Canadians for six months service in Britain
between 03 September 1939 and 08 May 1945, the exact terms were: Service
in the forces in non-operational areas subjected to air attack or closely
threatened, providing such service lasted for three or more years. Service
overseas or outside the country of residence, providing that such service
lasted for one year, except in territories threatened by the enemy or subject
to bomb attacks, in which case it was six months prior to 02 September 1945.
& Clasp (Canadian
Volunteer Service Medal with Bar)
The Canadian Volunteer Service Medal was granted
to persons of any rank in the Naval, Military or Air Forces of Canada who
voluntarily served on Active Service and honorably completed eighteen months
(540 days) total voluntary service from September 3, 1939 to March 1, 1947.
A silver bar (often called a clasp),
a maple leaf at its center was awarded for 60 days service outside Canada.
A silver maple leaf is worn on the ribbon in undress.
War Medal was awarded to all full-time personnel of the armed forces and
merchant marines for serving for 28 days between 03 September 1939 and 02
September 1945. In the Merchant Navy, the 28 days must have been served
PAGE NEXT PAGE