‘Fu­ture ggen­er­a­tions must see th­ese peo­ple are re­mem­bered’

Two Vic­to­ria Cross re­cip­i­ents are buried in Chal­font St Peter and the vil­lage is due to be re­mem­ber them with com­mem­o­ra­tive stones. Lor­can Lovett finds out the sto­ries of th­ese coura­geous he­roes of the First World War

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - LIFE & LEISURE - Royal Bri­tish Le­gion chair­man Keith Bowler and Terry Grey at the grave of Vic­to­ria Cross re­cip­i­ent Ge­of­frey Drum­mond at St Peter;s ceme­tery

COM­MU­NI­TIES Sec­re­tary Eric Pick­les an­nounced a trib­ute to some of the bravest men of the 20th cen­tury last year. He said ev­ery town or city that has a Vic­to­ria Cross (VC) re­cip­i­ent from the First World War will re­ceive a com­mem­o­ra­tive paving stone.

Ears cer­tainly pricked up in Chal­font St Peter. Two VC win­ners from the war are buried in the vil­lage, yet there was one slight dilemma: the stones would go to the birth­place of the men and although Ge­of­frey Drum­mond and Fran­cis Hu­bert lived in South Bucks, they were not born there.

Che­sham Town Coun­cil ne­go­ti­ated a sim­i­lar prob­lem by nam­ing a hous­ing de­vel­op­ment after Hert­ford­shire-born VC re­cip­i­ent Al­fred Burt who moved to the town after the First World War in 1925.

Chal­font St Peter Parish coun­cil leader Linda Smith wrote to Eric Pick­les ex­plain­ing the vil­lage’s pride in the men, and the fact they had set up an ex­hi­bi­tion to them which was launched with the mens’ rel­a­tives.

Mr Pick­les replied the birth­place was of most im­por­tance but al­lowed the coun­cil to buy repli­cas of the stones for £450 each.

Mrs Smith said: “We started the cam­paign to re­mem­ber them in about 2008 be­cause we felt very proud. They were very brave men and it is right we re­mem­ber them.”

The mens’ sto­ries chime of courage, and they de­serve the ti­tle of ‘very brave’, or pos­si­bly ‘pos­sessed’ when you learn of their ac­tions.

Lieu­tenant Ge­of­frey Drum­mond (Jan­uary 25 1886 - April 21 1941) was born in London and buried at St Peter’s Church ceme­tery.

While vol­un­teer­ing for res­cue work, a shell burst on board his ship, killing an of­fi­cer and a deck hand and badly wound­ing the coxswain and Drum­mond.

He helped es­cort two of­fi­cers and 38 men and re­tained con­scious­ness long enough to back his ves­sel away from the piers and to­wards the open sea be­fore col­laps­ing ex­hausted from his wounds.

He was awarded the VC on May 9 1918 in Bel­gium.

The Aus­tralian avi­a­tor Fran­cis Hu­bert (Frank) McNa­mara VC, CB, CBE (4 April 1894 – 2 Novem­ber 1961) is buried in St Joseph’s Pri­ory in Austin Wood.

His story makes the ad­ven­tures of fic­tional pi­lot ‘Big­gles’ sound like a ride on the teacups.

McNa­mara was fly­ing near Gaza when a shell pre­ma­turely ex­ploded in his plane, badly wound­ing his leg.

While turn­ing back to base, he spot­ted a fel­low pi­lot who had crash landed. With the Turk­ish cal­vary ap­proach­ing, McNa­mara fore­saw the grisly fate of this man and took the plunge to save him.

He landed and the downed pi­lot held the struts of his wing but the weight was too much. They jumped out of the plane and set it alight then ran back to the other crashed plane, which they soon fixed.

McNa­mara, who was on the brink of black­ing out, flew 70 miles back to base.

Chal­font St Peter Parish Coun­cil now need to de­cide where the com­mem­o­ra­tive stones for th­ese men will go.

Royal Bri­tish Le­gion (RBL) branch chair­man for the area, Keith Bowler, said: “The RBL would like to see them in a prom­i­nent place. The men spent most of their lives in Chal­font St Peter and it is ap­pro­pri­ate it is where they lived and where they were hap­pi­est.

“It is im­por­tant fu­ture gen­er­a­tions and vis­i­tors to the area see th­ese peo­ple are re­mem­bered.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.