Graham was the only son of a Northumbrian doctor and was born on June 27 1831 in Acton, Middlesex. He was educated in Wimbledon and Dresden (he spoke and wrote fluent German and even translated some German technical texts relating to the Franco Prussian War).
Graham was a huge man, six foot six inches tall and broad shouldered and the ultimate fighting Victorian soldier.
He attended the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich from 1847 and then went on to the School of Military Engineering at Chatham. The Royal Military Academy at Woolwich trained officers for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers from 1741 until 1939. In 1947 it was amalgamated with Sandhurst (which had trained infantry and cavalry officers).
In the Second (or third, depending on how you classify it) China War he was seriously wounded in 1860 during the taking of the Taku forts but recovered to enter Peking with the victorious British Army. As a result of his services in this campaign he was made a Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel and a Commander of the Bath and received the China medal with two clasps.
He returned to England in 1861 and for the next 16 years he was Commanding Engineer successively at Brighton, Aldershot, Montreal, Chatham, Manchester, and York. In 1877 he was appointed Assistant Director of Works for Barracks at the War Office.
Following the Sudan campaign he was again officially thanked by both Houses of Parliament, promoted to Lieutenant-General for services in the field, granted the 1st Class Order of the Medjidie and awarded two clasps to the Egypt medal. He commanded the Suakin Field Force in 1885 for which he was thanked by both houses of Parliament for the third time, made a G.C.B. and received another clasp to the Egypt medal.
General Graham was placed on the retired list in 1890. He was made a G.C.M.G. in 1896 and awarded the ceremonial post of Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Royal Engineers in 1899. Lieutenant-General Sir Gerald Graham, V.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., died of pneumonia at Bideford on the 17th of December, 1899, and is buried at East-the-Water Cemetery, Bideford, Devon.
His Victoria Cross is currently owned by his Great, Great, Great Grandson, Oliver Brooks, and is on display at the Royal Engineers Museum at Gillingham, England.