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Brave soldier made famous by Steven Spielberg film is honoured for ultimate wartime sacrifice

PUBLISHED: 17:42 10 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:06 11 April 2018

Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson unveils the memorial stone to Gordon Flowerdew V.C. at St Leonards Church, Billingford.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson unveils the memorial stone to Gordon Flowerdew V.C. at St Leonards Church, Billingford. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

The birthplace of a soldier made famous by a Steven Spielberg film for making the ultimate sacrifice for his country has unveiled a commemorative stone in his honour at a moving ceremony.

Unveiling of memorial stone to Gordon Flowerdew V.C. at St Leonards Church, Billingford.
Peter West, great nephew of Gordon Flowerdew with Major Alfred Wong from the Royal Canadians
Picture: Nick ButcherUnveiling of memorial stone to Gordon Flowerdew V.C. at St Leonards Church, Billingford. Peter West, great nephew of Gordon Flowerdew with Major Alfred Wong from the Royal Canadians Picture: Nick Butcher

On March 30 1918 Lt Gordon Flowerdew, of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse, Royal Canadians, led a mounted attack on heavily fortified German forces in Moreuil Wood, France.

One of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, more than two thirds of the 75 men who took part in charge were killed, including Lt Flowerdew himself.

Following his gallantry, Lt Flowerdew was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross - the highest award a member of the British or Commonwealth armed services can achieve.

His act also featured in the film War Horse.

Gordon Flowerdew was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the battle of Moreuil Wood, in the Somme.Gordon Flowerdew was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the battle of Moreuil Wood, in the Somme.

Now, 100 years later, Lt Flowerdew’s bravery has been commemorated in village where he was born and spent the first 18 years of his life.

On Tuesday, April 10, more than 100 people - including descendants of Lt Flowerdew, some of whom had travelled from South Africa and Canada - gathered in the churchyard of St Leonard’s Church in Billingford, near Diss.

Civic figures and members of the armed forces - including current serving members of the Lord Stracona’s Horse and the Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson - also attended the ceremony.

Opening events, chairman of Scole Parish Council Graham Moore said he was “honoured” to witness the tribute, adding: “This commemorative plaque will ensure the bravery, valour and devotion to duty demonstrated by this courageous man will never be forgotten.”

Unveiling of memorial stone to Gordon Flowerdew V.C. at St Leonards Church, Billingford.
Picture: Nick ButcherUnveiling of memorial stone to Gordon Flowerdew V.C. at St Leonards Church, Billingford. Picture: Nick Butcher

Nigel Flowerdew, 71, Lt Flowerdew’s great nephew, said: “In the last three or four years we have come to realise how many other people respect and revere what Lt Flowerdew and his men did.

“I would like to say thank you to the family and how they looked after the medal. We are just very grateful.”

Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Flowerdew said the whole experience had been very humbling and added: “We grew up hearing his name and then you start to understand what it means. It’s absolutely vital we remember.”

Born in 1885, Gordon Flowerdew was one of 10 children. He attended Framlingham college, before emigrating to Canada aged 18. He is buried at Namps-au-Val Cemetery in France.

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