Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, speaking in East Grinstead, birthplace of Corporal Sidney Godley VC

Ministers lead tributes at laying of first Victoria Cross paving stones

Posted on on 27 August 2014
Share |

Tributes have been paid to First World War holders of the Victoria Cross at ceremonies to mark the laying of the first commemorative paving stones in their honour.

They took place on August 23rd 2014, the 100th anniversary of the first VCs awarded during the Great War.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities in the UK Government, launched the four-year programme in the Sussex town of East Grinstead, birthplace of Sidney Godley VC.

Corporal Godley and Lieutenant Maurice Dease received Britain's highest military award for bravery for their defence of Nimy railway bridge at the Battle of Mons in August 1914.

Mr Pickles said young soldiers had been recognised for exceptional courage in the cause of liberty: "We remember that these men were not born heroes. They came from towns and cities just like ours, but went on to carry out astonishing acts of valour in service of their country."

In Dublin, a paving stone remembering Lieutenant Dease was presented to the Irish Government during a ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery honouring the soldier born in Westmeath.

Ireland's Arts and Heritage Minister, Heather Humphreys, paid tribute as she accepted the stone from the British Communities Minister, Lord Ahmad: "I believe that learning of their service and background will give modern generations an insight into the nature of the war. 

"I hope that these stones will remind us not only of the bravery of the soldiers but of the tragedy of that terrible war." 

Over the next four years, 469 stones will be laid in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland commemorating those awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

The ceremonies will take place in the place of birth, or hometown, of each recipient on the date of winning the VC.

The programme will also see 35 VC holders commemorated in the Republic of Ireland, which formed part of UK at the time of the war.

A further 145 stones remembering those born overseas will be laid at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The following were honoured on 23rd August 2014:

*Private Sidney Godley VC - East Grinstead, West Sussex

*Corporal Charles Garforth VC - Brent, London

*Lieutenant Maurice Dease VC - Dublin, Ireland

*Corporal Charles Jarvis VC - Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire

Captain Theodore Wright - also awarded the Victoria Cross on 23rd August 1914 - will be honoured with a ceremony in Brighton on 3rd September 2014.

The last commemorative paving stones will be laid in November 2018. More details of ceremonies held and forthcoming events can be found here

Sources: UK and Irish Governments

Images courtesy of UK Government

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News