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Information panels detail Thatcham's war heroes

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"I hope that the interpretation panel will help people understand who these men were and what they did"

STORIES behind Thatcham’s three Victoria Cross winners have been unveiled in the Broadway.

An information panel marking the feats of Second Lieutenant Alexander Buller Turner, Lieutenant Colonel Victor Buller Turner, and Lance Corporal William House were unveiled at a ceremony last Wednesday.

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.

William John House rushed from cover into “very hot” enemy fire to pick up a wounded sergeant during the Battle of Mosilikatse Nek in the Second Boer War in 1900.

As House endeavoured to bring his wounded comrade back, he was severely wounded, but warned his comrades not to assist him because of the intense fire.

Second Lieutenant Buller Turner was posthumously awarded his VC, aged 22, for driving back German troops during the Battle of Loos in the First World War.

Twenty-seven years later, Alexander’s younger brother Lieutenant Colonel Victor Buller Turner was awarded the VC for actions at the Second Battle of El Alamein in the Second World War.

Under his leadership, and despite receiving a head wound, his isolated Rifle Brigade unit repulsed 90 enemy tanks for 13-and-a-half hours.

The panel was unveiled by Thatcham mayor Jan Cover, the Lord Leiutenant of Berkshire James Puxley and Lt Col James Gayner MBE, Commanding Officer of 7th Battalion The Rifles.

Members of the Thatcham branch of the Royal British Legion and relatives of William John House were also in attendance.

The commemorative stones were unveiled on September 28, 2015 – 100 years after the battle that led to Second Lieutenant Buller Turner earning his Victoria Cross.

The Department of Communities and Local Government provided them to the home towns of 504 servicemen presented with the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

But Thatcham Town Council decided that the town’s two soldiers who had fought in other wars should be honoured in the same way.

Discussions for an interpretation panel to enable people to understand more about the history of the men quickly followed.

Research was undertaken and designs were drawn up to ensure that the information was meaningful to residents and visitors.

And following a donation from local residents Mr and Mrs D Nicholls, who organised a fundraising concert, the town council agreed to cover the remaining costs.

Dr Nick Young, of Thatcham Historical Society, said: “Some locals know the VC stones and who the men were, many do not and I hope that the interpretation panel will help people understand who these men were and what they did.”

A book launched last November detailed every soldier on Thatcham’s War Memorial from the First World War.

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