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5 - Victoria Cross recipient to attend special ceremony

Victoria Cross stone unveiling ceremony
Victoria Cross stone unveiling for Lance Corporal Thomas Bryan

One of the country’s only living Victoria Cross recipients will pay his respects to a Stourbridge war hero at a special ceremony this Sunday.

Dr Johnson Gideon Beharry VC will join other honoured guests including The Mayor of Dudley, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Richard Lockett, Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Colonel Tom Lloyd and the High Sherriff of the West Midlands, Dr Keith Bradshaw DL in a memorial service on Sunday (April 9) to commemorate the bravery of fellow Victoria Cross recipient, Lance Corporal Thomas Bryan.

Bryan, born in Lye in 1882, was awarded the highest military decoration during the First World War where he fought in the 25th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

This Sunday (April 9) marks 100 years since the start of the Battle of Arras, which saw the Fusiliers advance but their movement halted by a German machine-gun.  Lance Corporal Bryan and his superior Captain Huntley set out to find it, sadly Huntley was killed by a sniper, but Bryan went on alone and was able to disable the gun.  

It was for this act of bravery that Bryan was honoured and in June 1917 he was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V in front of a crowd of 40,000 people at St James Park, Newcastle.

And now, 100 years later during Sunday’s service, a special stone will be unveiled in his memory at Mary Stevens Park in the presence of Beharry, one of only a handful of living Victoria Cross recipients in the country.

Beharry was awarded his medal in 2005 for his ‘individual acts of great heroism by which he saved the lives of his comrades’ as a Lance Sergeant in Iraq on May 1 2004. Beharry was driving an armoured vehicle, which was hit by a multiple rocket propelled grenades. 

A number of soldiers were injured and Beharry was forced to open his hatch to steer his vehicle and expose himself to enemy fire.  He drove the crippled vehicle through the ambush, taking his own crew and leading five other vehicles to safety.

Councillor Mohammed Hanif, the Mayor of Dudley, said:

“The bravery and efforts of Lance Corporal Thomas Bryan should never be forgotten.  He put his life on the line to protect his comrades with little regard for his own safety.  Sunday’s commemoration gives us the opportunity to give thanks for all he did and create a lasting memorial in his honour.

“I will also be delighted to welcome Dr Johnson Gideon Beharry to the borough as part of this special event.”

The borough commemoration which includes a short service led by Reverend Simon Falshaw, and the unveiling of the memorial stone will take place at 2pm at the war memorial in Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge.

Lance Corporal Bryan’s memorial will be the second of three to be installed across the borough, joining Second Lieutenant Baxter’s memorial also located in Mary Steven’s Park. The third memorial to Private Thomas Barratt of Coseley will be commemorated on 27 July. Each plaque is unveiled 100 years to the day of each man’s VC achievement.

Ends

Photo opportunity

There will be photo opportunities during the unveiling ceremony.  To confirm attendance please call 01384 815219.

Notes to editors

Further information about Lance Corporal Thomas Bryan:

Bryan was born in Bott Lane, Lye on 21 January 1882. His father was a coalminer and as young child the family moved to Whitwood Mere, a mining village near Castleford, Yorkshire. Bryan joined his father to work at Whitwood Colliery and in 1903 married Sarah Smart and later had five children

Bryan’s medals were acquired by Lord Ashcroft collection in 2000 and are currently on display in the Imperial War Museum.

The official citation states that Bryan was awarded the Victoria Cross:

“For most conspicuous bravery during an attack.

“Although wounded, this Non-commissioned Officer went forward alone, with a view to silencing a machine gun which was inflicting much damage. He worked up most skilfully along a communication trench, approached the gun from behind, disabled it and killed two of the team as they were abandoning the gun.

“As this machine gun had been a serious obstacle in the advance to the second objective, the results obtained by Lance-Corporal Bryan’s gallant action were very far-reaching.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Release Contact Information

Press office, 01384 815219, pressoffice@dudley.gov.uk