Funds for restoration of graves of our First World War Victoria Cross heroes

Captain Harry Cator's grave at the Cemetery, next to St Margaret's Church, Sprowston. Picture: Denis

Captain Harry Cator's grave at the Cemetery, next to St Margaret's Church, Sprowston. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

A fund of £100,000 has been announced to boost the restoration of the UK graves of our First World War Victoria Cross heroes.

Corporal Sidney James Day, the Lakenham lad who won the VC.

Corporal Sidney James Day, the Lakenham lad who won the VC.

The project aims to restore all of these graves in need of repair, including the Sprowston grave of Norfolk's Harry Cator as well as the Hampshire and London graves of Norwich man Sidney Day and Shipdham-born Arthur Cross.

Harry Cator VC from Drayton. France 1917.

Harry Cator VC from Drayton. France 1917. - Credit: Archant

Headstones will be cleaned or replaced so that the final resting place of those who received the highest military award for valour is a truly fitting tribute to their sacrifice.

Arthur Henry Cross VC (Harry) (awarded for action in France 1918) with actor and soldier David Niven

Arthur Henry Cross VC (Harry) (awarded for action in France 1918) with actor and soldier David Niven.

The new funding, announced by communities secretary Eric Pickles, will give a significant boost to funds already being raised by the Victoria Cross Trust – a charitable organisation that works to ensure the graves of every Victoria Cross recipient are maintained.

While some graves only require minor work, others have fallen into disrepair. Headstones have become illegible, stones have crumbled away leaving them unstable, and some are in danger of collapse. As a result many people are unaware that a Victoria Cross recipient is buried in their area.


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Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: 'An entire generation of men fought for Britain's freedom in the First World War and all fought valiantly. But for hundreds of those men their bravery was of such an exceptional nature they were bestowed with the highest military award, the Victoria Cross.

'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.

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'This will make sure the graves of our Victoria Cross heroes become places to reflect on their selfless service to the nation. Alongside the creation of commemorative paving stones we will create a fitting tribute to honour these heroes.'

Brian Wilson, chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich Combined Ex-services Association, said: 'I think it's a good thing because we should remember them.

'The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is doing the graves and memorials in France so I can't see why the graves over here shouldn't have some respect too.

'Sometimes I think the word hero is used too liberally but the men who were given the Victoria Cross were true heroes and we don't know if they still have any family looking after their graves.'

Last year Mr Pickles announced a national campaign of commemorative paving stones to be laid in the place of birth of First World War Victoria Cross winners across the country so that communities will have a permanent memorial of their local heroes.

The commemorative paving stones will be laid in over 400 communities across the UK, the first of which will be laid in August 2014.

For more information, about the Victoria Cross Trust and its work, visit http://victoriacrosstrust.org/contact More information on government's plans for the First World War centenary can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/first-world-war-centenary

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