Vereker, John Standish Surtees Pendergast Viscount Gort, born 10-07-1886 in London, into the Prendergast Vereker dynasty, an old Anglo-Irish aristocratic family, and grew up in County Durham and the Isle of Wight. His mother was Eleanor, Viscountess Gort born Surtees (1846–1933; later Eleanor Benson), who was a daughter of writer Robert Smith Surtees. J. S. S. P. Vereker’s father was John Gage Prendergast Vereker, 5th Viscount Gort (1849–1902). John was educated at Malvern Link Preparatory School and Harrow School and then entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich , in January 1904, having succeeded his father to the family title in 1902. The family peerage, Viscount Gort, was named after Gort, a town in County Galway in the West of Ireland. He was commissioned in the Grenadier Guards in July 1905. On the death of King Edward VII in 1910, the young Viscount Gort was a Lieutenant in command of the Grenadier NCOs detailed to bear the coffin and attend the catafalque. He was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order for his services. Later that year he went moose hunting in Canada and accidentally shot his Indian guide, prompting an immediate return. On 03-09-1913, he was appointed ADC to General Francis Lloyd , General Officer Commanding London District. General Lloyd died age 72, on 26-02-1926. In August 1914, Gort was promoted to captain and he fought on the Western Front and served as a staff officer achieving the brevet rank of major and acting rank of lieutenant-colonel. In June 1915 he was awarded the Military Cross. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in June 1917, a bar to the DSO in September 1917 and a second bar in January 1919. He was also Mentioned in Despatches eight times. On 27-11-1918, Gort was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 27-09-1918 at the Battle of Canal du Nord, near Flesquieres, France. Gort’s batman, Guardsman Ransome, was killed while helping Gort to safety. At the outbreak of war he was given command of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France, arriving on 19-09-1939. During this time he played a part in a political scandal, the Pillbox affair, that led to the dismissal of British War Minister Leslie Hore-Belisha, he died age 63, on 16-02-1957.
During his visit, Hore-Belisha oversaw the placement of the troops of the BEF, not the defences being constructed. On his return to Britain, he complained to the War Cabinet and the Army Council that too few pillbox defences were being built for the BEF
Following the Phony War, the 1940 German breakthrough in the Ardennes split the Allied forces and communications between the British Expeditionary Force and the French broke down, and on 25-05-1940 Gort took the unilateral decision to abandon his orders for a southward attack by his forces. Gort’s command position was difficult, serving under French high, theatre, and army group command while also being responsible to London. Withdrawing northwards, the BEF together with many French soldiers were evacuated during the Battle of Dunkirk. Gort is credited by some as reacting efficiently to the crisis and saving the British Expeditionary Force. Others hold a more critical view of Gort’s leadership in 1940, seeing his decision not to join the French in organizing a large scale counter-attack as defeatist. Gort served in various positions for the duration of the war. On the day of his return, 1 June 1940, he was made an ADC General to King George VI. On 25-06-1940 he went by flying boat, with Duff Cooper , this diplomat died age 63, on 01-01-1954, to Rabat, Morocco, to rally anti-Nazi French cabinet ministers, but was instead held on his flying boat. He quickly returned to Britain. Lord Gort was given the post of Inspector of Training and the Home Guard.
Death and burial ground of Vereker, John Standish Surtees Pendergast Viscount Gort.
During a meeting in November 1945 with Field Marshals Alan Francis Brooke and Bernard Montgomery, Gort collapsed and was flown to London where the diagnosis was cancer. Viscount Gort died at the age of 59, on 31-03-1946 and is buried in the St. John the Baptist Church in Penhurst.