John Grainger

Photograph of John Grainger

When I was eight my parents bought me a Kodak Brownie camera and I spent many hours taking photographs of stationary cars, the prints being carefully fitted into albums. I started work at Rolls-Royce in Derby in 1958 and took early retirement 23 years later. In my time there I could take holiday entitlements at any time and, as I was now a member of the Institute of Journalists, I took every opportunity to travel abroad working for various newspapers and agencies, including Amnesty International for whom my work was done for free. In the 1980s I was working for the Sunday Telegraph in Lebanon, following the Israeli army fighting Hezbollah. Myself and a German photographer were working through ruined buildings when shots were fired from across the square and my companion was hit in both legs. I also received a ricochet in my ankle. Quite a scary moment, but at least I got to meet the Queen Mother. It was time for me to move on from dangerous assignments so I set up a publishing business, Breedon Books, specialising in football club histories and statistics and local history. At the same time I was the official club photographer for Derby County, taking match pictures at every game for four years home and away. I loved my sport and represented Derbyshire at four different sports: soccer, rugby union, athletics and cricket. I am a vice-president of Derby Rugby Football Club. In May 2015 I took my son to visit the Somme and Flanders battlefields and was in awe of the cemeteries and how well they were kept by the locals. At Tyne Cott Cemetery I took as many photographs as I could of Notts & Derby soldiers’ graves, but was overcome by the overall sight, wandering around muttering ‘what a waste’ to anyone who would listen. I was determined to play some kind of role and landed upon The War Graves Photographic Project site where I now supply photographs from Derbyshire war graves. I have never been unemployed since I was 11, but this is the by far the most satisfying job I have ever done.


The project relies solely on volunteer help. If you believe you can help in any way (photographing, admin, sponsorship, etc) then please contact us. If you would like to help with the photography please download the Guidance and Volunteer policy PDF via link on the volunteers page.