Fri, 02 Oct 2015
PEOPLE of Thatcham stood with pride to honour the town’s three Victoria Cross winners at a service on Monday.
Paving stones marking the heroic deeds of second lieutenant Alexander Buller Turner; his brother lieutenant colonel Victor Buller Turner; and lance corporal William House were unveiled in the Broadway by members of the Royal School of Military Survey based at Dennison Barracks in Hermitage.
The stones are a Government initiative enabling towns to mark the bravery of their residents during the First World War.
Monday’s service marked the centenary of the action that led to Alexander being posthumously awarded the VC during the Battle of Loos.
The honour guard carrying Alexander’s Victoria Cross marched into the Broadway where a crowd of around 100 people had gathered to watch the historic event.
The mayor of Thatcham Sheila Ellison spoke of the town’s pride in producing three exceptionally couragous men.
The citations for each of the town’s VC soldiers were then read, followed by prayers from the Revd Mark Bennet. The exhortation was then read by the chairman of Thatcham’s Royal British Legion, Ian Borland.
During the service I Vow to Thee, My Country and the national anthem were played by the Kennet School Band.
Alexander’s stone was paid for by the Government, with Thatcham Town Council commisioning the other two.
Speaking at the service, Mr Borland said that the number of people present had exceeded his expectations. He said he was pleased that the town council had taken the initiative to honour Thatcham’s three VC winners.
“The fact we have three of them from a small village I think is great” he said. “The stones are in the right place. So many people who will not have given it a second thought will look at them. I’m sure that people will respect them. If we have people and children asking ‘what’s that for?’ then it’s done exactly what it was meant to do.”
Mrs Ellison said the service marked a very proud day for Thatcham and that she was very pleased with the turnout.
“I am extremely proud that a small village could produce three people of such extraordinary courage. I hope that it will remind people that Thatcham is a good community,” she said.
Also present were the great nephews of lance corporal House, which Mrs Ellison said provided a lovely touch to the event.
Dr Nick Young from Thatcham Historical Society said: “In Thatcham, we are lucky to have three men that have not only served their country, but have been given the hugest possible award for doing so.
“Alexander Buller Turner drove the enemy back 150 yards during a bombing raid and was shot doing so. He did this knowing that in driving the enemy back he would save countless lives, and undoubtedly he did, but paying the ultimate price in doing so. In this respect alone, he deserves to be celebrated.”
For more on the town's VC winners, see this week's Newbury Weekly News.