September 25th, 2016

Graves of VC heroes to be restorated ahead of centenary

Updated: 4:41 pm, May 07, 2015

THE CRUMBLING graves of Victoria Cross heroes will be restored to commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War.

The Government has pledged to give £100,000 to ensure the resting places are a ‘truly fitting tribute’ to those who received the highest military honour.

The graves of 209 Victoria Cross recipients, who are buried in the UK, will be put back to their former glory thanks to the work of the Victoria Cross Trust.

A dose of tender-loving care will be given to Birmingham-born Private Thomas Turrall of The Worcestershire Regiment and Lance Corpral William Amey of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment whose graves are in Solihull’s Robin Hood Cemetery and Leamington Spa Cemetery respectively.

The charity will also restore the grave of Derbyshire-born Private William Beesley who was a member of The Rifle Brigade and is buried in St Paul’s Cemetery in Coventry.

Some of the gravestones are said to require only minor work, perhaps involving cleaning headstones that have become illegible.

Others, meanwhile, are in a severe state of disrepair and require extensive restoration and others are in danger of total collapse.

They have fallen into ruin because the heroes died after returning home, rather than in conflict which means the graves are not maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

And as a result communities are unaware they have a Victoria Cross recipient in their community.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, whose department is funding the project, said he is privileged to offer the money as communities will be able to learn about their local heroes.

He added: “As these men were honoured then for their extreme bravery on the battlefields, they should be honoured still.

“That is why I am privileged to offer more than £100,000 towards this project to ensure that their final resting places are venerated memorials where communities can pay their respects and learn about their local heroes.

“This will make sure the graves of our Victoria Cross heroes become places to reflect on their selfless service to the nation.”

William Amey LEAMINGTON

William was born in Duddeston, Birmingham on March 5, 1881 and was 37 at the time of his heroism.

He was promoted to Corporal and went to Buckingham Palace to receive his Victoria Cross from the King, on February 22, 1919 after making the capture of Fauborg Sayer possible.

He and his battalion set out on a foggy November morning in 1918 to secure the lock and canal but were faced with heavy gun fire from the Germans.

However the brave LEAMINTONIAN pushed through with his men and drove the Germans into a neighbouring farmland and also captured 50 prisoners.

Amey also attacked a machine gun post at a farmhouse single-handedly, killing two and driving the rest into a cellar until help arrived.

Amey spent the rest of his life in Leamington Spa and died on May 28 1940.

Thomas Turrall SOLIHULL

Thomas was born in Birmingham on July 5, 1885 and won his Victoria Cross at the age of 30 while serving with the 10th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment at the storming of La Boisselle, France.

Private Turrall was part of a night attack on a village where many Englishmen were killed.

He was one of the Battalion bombers on the raid which was ambushed leaving senior officers killed or wounded.

Private Turrall won his prestigious medal for carrying Lieutenant Jennings, whose leg was shattered, back to the trenches and Jennings died two hours after returning to base.

Thomas died on February 21 1964 and is buried at the Robin Hood Cemetery.

William Beesley COVENTRY

William was born on October 5, 1895 and was just 19 years old when he signed up to serve in World War One.

He was injured twice during 1915 but was posted back to the frontline after recovery and took part in the Battle of the Somme.

Rifleman Beesely was awarded his Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery when his platoon sergeant and other section commanders were killed he took command after coming under fire while unarmed.

Single-handed Pte Beeseley rushed a post, shot four of the enemy, took six prisoners and sent them back to his lines.

He and a comrade then brought his Lewis gun into action, inflicting many casualties and holding their position for four hours until the second private was wounded and despite that he still maintained the position until nightfall when things had quietened down.

William set up home in Coventry after attempts to serve in the Royal Artilery failed during World War Two – he was discharged because of his age – and died while on holiday in Wales during September 1966.

Private Thomas Turrall’s grave is one of 209 Victoria Cross winners whose grave will get a lift this year. (s)

Lance Corporal William Amey’s grave is set to be restored to its former glory thanks to a £100,000 grant from the Government. (s)

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