John Grover, O.B.E.

John Grover, OBE (1920-2008)
The Author of "The Hellmakers"

John Grover was born in Sydney, Australia in 1920. He served in the Middle East and New Guinea during World War II with the Royal Australian Engineers of the AIF. He then followed a distinguished career in the earth sciences and mining industry in the South West Pacific, Australia and Africa. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1963.He received a Royal Society and Nuffield Grant in 1967 and managed the major U.N. Development Project in Ethiopia in 1975-77. He retired from the Australian Mining Industry in 1982. His two books "The Struggle For Power" (1980) and "The Struggle For Cargo" (1983) are widely regarded as the classic exposés of the anti-uranium/nuclear and anti-mining movements.

He became a Regimental Cadet at Moore Park in the 1930's until the war. He then served in the Middle East, Papua and New Guinea, spent a year training Infantry Officers in jungle engineering. He resigned his rank to return to his unit in the Aitape-Wewak campaign until the war ended. There he sat for his Leaving Certificate Examinations, in a tent.

At Sydney University he studied Mining and Metallurgy and worked underground as a miner at Cobar gold and copper mine and at Broken Hill lead mines for some months at each.

Invited to fly to the Solomon Islands, he went in a wartime Sunderland Flying Boat to find and sample a gold and silver prospect. He did the mapping and took the samples for assay in Sydney, working for the entrepreneur Roy Hudson, and geologists Terence Connolly and Dr Owen Jones on Gold Ridge.

John Grover was appointed as Senior Geologist to the British Solomon Islands Protectorate Government, 'Subject to obtaining a first class degree and commencing his duties 8 months hence (April 1950)'. He was invited by the then New Hebrides Condominium Government to join French volcanologist Dr Claude Blot and two others in March 1962: firstly to explain why LOPEVI volcano erupted violently without warning to the people who lived there, and then to find a better way of forecasting volcanic eruptions for the future. He and Dr Blot achieved these objectives as described in his comprehensive book Volcanic Eruptions and Great Earthquakes.

So began his 20+ years of adventure in exploring islands in the Pacific in his second career — with the use of US aircraft and teams of experts from Australian, American, Swedish, British and Danish Universities. He performed this work with distinction and went on to write his well-researched books on socio-political issues.

He later went to Marxist Military Ethiopia as UN Project Manager of a large team of experts during a civil war, and back in Australia was a prolific author, social commentator and sought-after lecturer on minerals and energy and political issues surrounding access to these.

During his war service, a Jebel Druze horseman in the Lebanon mountains told him that 'He who tells the truth must keep one foot in the stirrup!' John was a proud member of the RSL, and in his many inspiring talks told the truth with no notion of leaving the scene in a hurry.

In his adventurous and challenging life, he enjoyed the wonderful support of his wife, Carolyn, who could write a book of her own on her pioneering life with a man who accepted every challenge. Indeed no book could do justice to John Grover. But a glimpse of the man is provided in a photograph taken in 1966 by Jorgen Lundberg, a Swedish geophysicist. This picture was sent to John Grover in December 2003.

It brought back memories of those years when the Geological Survey Department of the Solomon Islands was in full swing. They were great years for us all. The building was designed by me in the absence of an architect. The central top storey was the Drawing Office and Library where competent draughtsmen were trained before being sent to Britain for their final year. The back and central rows were the geological assistants, scientists, and specialists. The men upfront were the trained Guadalcanal and other stalwarts, all of whom had contributions to give, without which it would have been impossible to achieve what we did.