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Changes to Victoria Cross memorial stones honouring war heroes considered

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The location of three Victoria Cross (VC) memorial stones, currently sitting in the paving of the Broadway, have been a topic of discussion in Thatcham for some time.

There had been a general consensus among councillors that the stones remain in the same place but are lifted onto a plinth in order to both preserve them and keep them in a well attended area.

However, since the coronavirus pandemic, the conversation had been put on hold, until a meeting of the Town Centre Committee on March 14.

Victoria Cross memorial stones in the Broadway. Picture by: Thatcham Town Council
Victoria Cross memorial stones in the Broadway. Picture by: Thatcham Town Council

Members of the Royal British Legion's Thatcham branch were also in attendance and told the chamber that they wanted what was best for both the town and the VC stones.

The stones, which have been displayed in Thatcham for over six years, were joined by an interpretation panel in 2019.

This was all in an effort to mark the feats of three Thatcham Victoria Cross recipients, Second Lieutenant Alexander Buller Turner, Lieutenant Colonel Victor Buller Turner, and Lance Corporal William House.

Victoria Cross Information Panel. Picture by: Thatcham Town Council
Victoria Cross Information Panel. Picture by: Thatcham Town Council

The Victoria Cross is awarded for most conspicuous bravery, some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.

The Broadway saw the unveiling of a stone dedicated to Alexander Buller Turner on September 28, 2015, exactly 100 years after the battle that led to him being posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

It was unveiled alongside stones honouring William John House and Alexander’s younger brother Victor Buller Turner who was awarded his VC 27 years later.

In January 2020 the Victoria Cross Stones Working Party, consisting of councillors John Boyd, Paul Field and Owen Jeffery, met with John Sharpe and Brian Hare from the Royal British Legion and Chairman of Thatcham Memorial Trust Nathan Gregory to discuss what should happen with the stones.

Here, it was agreed that the Victoria Cross Stones should remain in The Broadway but be displayed on a plinth.

Chairman Mr Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) said, at the recent meeting, that the next steps are now to get ready to protect the VC stones, which underwent damage from footfall and stands from market stalls, by “lifting them up from their position in the ground”.

He said: “I think we were getting very close to deciding what we were going to do and how we were going to do it and then Covid struck.

“The time has come, as we are hoping to bring this back to a major issue to properly commemorate those who won the VC and to ensure we have a long term solution.”

Councillor Jeremy Cottam (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) agreed with the chairman calling it a “logical conclusion”.

He said: “Let’s be honest, not a lot of people walk to the war memorial down the road.

“This is where the hub of activity of our town is. It is where it is more likely to be seen.”

The chamber then heard that the Victoria Cross working party will be reinstated and will discuss with the Royal British Legion what the next steps will be in achieving their plans.

The Royal British Legion attendees expressed agreement and said: "We want to see individuals properly honoured. We are really grateful Thatcham Town Council has supported that. You will get our cooperation."

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