Papers of Major Keith Grimble Groves OBE JP of Thie Varrey, Port Lewaigue, Maughold

Scope and Content

The content consists of material relating to Major Keith Grimble Groves’ intelligence work in the First World War (The Trial of the Tarabulsi Brothers for War Treason and The Story of the Hejaz Gold), war diary extracts from Salonika and Palestine (original volume included), service papers, miscellaneous photographs/postcards relating to military service and Army Books. Other material relates to Major Groves’ Second World War activities such as the Isle of Man Military Service Local Tribunal, National Service Tribunals, the Local Defence Volunteers and the Manx Home Guard.

Documents, booklets and pamphlets relating to the Groves family (and extended family) history are present; including information on the material family of Groves’ grandmother (Martha Marsland née Briercliffe). Correspondence from (extended) family members, a banking book belonging to James Grimble Groves (The Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company Limited), newspaper articles/cuttings and orders of services relating to family members are also located within the deposit. Files documenting the transfer of land at the Maughold Brooghs from the Groves family to the Manx National Trust are included. Other material includes a diary of Anna Eva Groves from her trip to the United States of America (1892) and a diary entitled ‘Britannia ruled the waves: A Tour of the World in 1912’, relating to the seven months Keith G. Groves spent travelling (visiting Africa, India, China, Japan and Canada).

Papers relating to the death of Louis Grimble Groves are included, such as his last letter to his father, a condolence letter from King George VI (1895-1952), Louis’ birth certificate and numerous newspaper cuttings relating to the accident. Documentation relating to the Ramsey Steamship Company and the brewery Groves and Whitnall are also present. Further material includes a driving licence for Dorothy Groves (1921), an immigration pass to travel to Rhodesia (1964), a National Registration Identity Card (1945), an Isle of Man Travel Permit Card for Great Britain, Éire and Northern Ireland (1939) and a cheque book from The Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank Limited (Martins Bank Limited Ramsey IOM Branch).

Administrative / Biographical History

Keith Grimble Groves (1887-1979) born in Manchester, was the son of James Grimble Groves (c.1854-1914) DL, MP, JP, director of Groves and Whitnall, Brewers of Salford and Manchester, and his wife Anna Eva née Marsland (c.1856-1938). Groves’ parents had been frequent visitors to the Island, building Thie Varrey (meaning in Manx ‘The House by the Sea’.) in 1909, situated at Port Lewaigue in the northern parish of Maughold. The Groves family split their time regularly between their estates in England and the Isle of Man and after the death of James Grimble Groves, his wife Anna Eva permanently resided on the Island. Keith Grimble Groves was educated at Uppingham School, Rutland and from 1906-1910 studied law at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, gaining his Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Laws (LLM). Groves joined Middle Temple in 1908, was called to the Bar in 1912 and joined the Inns of Court Officers’ Training Corps after the outbreak of the First World War (1914-1918). In November 1914 he married Dorothy Moore (c.1890-1980) and had one son Louis Grimble (1921-1945). Obtaining a commission in the 2/17th Battalion London Regiment he became a captain in February 1915, serving in France, Salonika and Palestine. After serving three years as a company commander on active service, he was appointed (for a short time) deputy adjutant and Quartermaster-General (QMG) for the 60th Division. Groves was then appointed third on the General Staff Office of Lord Allenby’s (1861-1936) staff, before finally entering into the staff at Cairo conducting special intelligence work. Groves left the army in 1919, resumed his barrister profession until the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-1945); he was told he was too old (age 51) to serve in the forces, leading him to retire from his practice and conduct voluntary war service on the Isle of Man.

In 1923 Groves had joined the family brewing business Groves and Whitnall, holding the position of director before obtaining the chairmanship (in November 1946) after the death of his brother William Peer Groves (1878-1946). Groves held the office of chairman until 1956, staying on the board until April 1959 and continuing as senior trustee of the Employee’s Pension Fund until 1963. Groves was also a director of Townsend Bros. Ferries Ltd (a business transporting motor vehicles to and from Europe) and a director of the Ramsey Steamship Co. Ltd in the Isle of Man. During the Second World War Groves was a member of the Military Service Local Tribunal, dealing with applications for deferment and postponement of service and applications by conscientious objectors. He also became a member of the War (Local Conditions) Committee, dealing with cases of hardship within the tourist industry. Groves was deputy chairman of the Joint War Organization for the Red Cross and St John and he was second in command of the 2nd Manx Battalion Home Guard. Appointed a Magistrate in 1943, he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Isle of Man Magistrates Association in 1961 and became chairman of the Ramsey Bench in 1962.

In September 1945 Groves’ son Louis was tragically killed in an aviation accident. Sergeant Louis Grimble Groves had been a Meteorological Observer for the Royal Air Force (RAF) and was returning from meteorological operational duties over the Atlantic when his plane crashed. After the tragedy Keith Groves founded the Louis Grimble Groves Memorial Awards which are still active today. In 1965 Major Groves received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the RAF. It was in recognition of his contribution to flying safety through the Memorial Prizes given to the RAF by Groves and his wife. Major Groves died in the Isle of Man in 1979 aged 91.

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Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered by Manx newspapers the Isle of Man Times (11 November 1939), Mona's Herald (11 September 1945), the Ramsey Courier (29 November 1946) and The Courier (8 January 1965). Further biographical information was gathered by websites (accessed 28 Jan 2016) and (accessed 28 Jan 2016).

Isle of Man newspapers available online at, accessed 28 Jan 2016.

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), January 2016.

Separated Material

Separated material held by Manx National Heritage include accompanying photographs of Major Groves. Reference number: PG/14667.

Related Material

Related material includes the private papers of Major Groves and The Trial of the Taraulsi Brothers for War Treason and the Story of the Hejaz, deposited at the Imperial War Museum, London, catalogue number: Documents.9311.