BAT­TLE OF PASSCHENDAELE HE­ROES HON­OURED

Hayes & Harlington Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by GOOLISTAN COOPER goolistan.cooper@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Coop_­dog

A SOL­DIER who cap­tured en­emy ma­chine guns and an­other who led an at­tack while se­ri­ously in­jured dur­ing the Bat­tle of Passchendaele have been re­mem­bered in a spe­cial cen­te­nary cer­e­mony.

Cap­tain Thomas Rivers­dale Colyer-Fer­gus­son and Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Den­nis Ge­orge Wyld­bore He­witt, both from the bor­ough and both Vic­to­ria Cross (VC) re­cip­i­ents, were hon­oured once again with com­mem­o­ra­tive stones un­veiled dur­ing a memorial at Vic­to­ria Em­bank­ment Gar­dens in June.

The stones were un­veiled by west Lon­don war hero Lance Sergeant John­son Gideon Be­harry, and fam­ily mem­bers of both the VC re­cip­i­ents.

The men died shortly af­ter their heroic deeds, killed by snipers on July 31 2017 on the first day of Passchendaele, in­fa­mous for the scale of its ca­su­al­ties but also for its muddy bat­tle­fields.

With just a sergeant and five men, 21-year-old Cap­tain Colyer-Fer­gus­son, who stud­ied at Har­row School man­aged to cap­ture an en­emy trench and a ma­chine gun which he turned on his as­sailants.

He soon af­ter cap­tured an­other en­emy ma­chine gun with just his sergeant, but soon af­ter­wards was killed by a sniper’s bul­let.

Nine­teen-year-old Lieu­tenant He­witt led his com­pany un­der heavy ma­chine­gun fire while se­ri­ously wounded and in pain.

The teenager suc­cess­fully cap­tured and con­sol­i­dated his ob­jec­tive but was killed by a sniper soon af­ter.

The cer­e­mony mark­ing the men’s gal­lantry and ser­vice was led by the Lord Mayor of West­min­ster Cllr Ian Adams, West­min­ster’s Armed Forces Cham­pion Cllr Rachael Ro­bathan and Colonel Crispin Lock­hart MBE Chief of Staff Lon­don District.

Bri­tish Army of­fi­cers also at­tended the event to mark the men’s gal­lantry and ser­vice dur­ing the First World War.

Cllr Ro­bathan said: “It is ex­tremely im­por­tant we never for­get the out­stand­ing sac­ri­fices made dur­ing the First World War.

“To­day, we not only hon­oured the ex­cep­tional brav­ery of these two young men but also paid trib­ute to the ser­vice men and women who con­tinue to keep us safe. It was an hon­our to meet the fam­i­lies of both Cap­tain Thomas Riv- ers­dale Colyer-Fer­gus­son and Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Den­nis Ge­orge Wyld­bore He­witt and hear their sto­ries.

“West­min­ster is home to many Armed Forces’ per­son­nel and we will con­tinue to sup­port their fam­i­lies and the wider mil­i­tary com­mu­nity.”

The Lord Mayor told the crowd he was proud to com­mem­o­rate the two VC re­cip­i­ents and added: “These flag­stones com­mem­o­rate ex­tra­or­di­nary acts.

“They are vis­ual re­minders of the debt we owe to our Armed Forces for liv­ing our daily lives in peace.

“Com­mem­o­rat­ing our he­roes is an op­por­tu­nity both to hon­our our Armed Forces, and to pro­mote the val­ues they stand for – courage, re­spect, in­tegrity and pride.”

The 1 Royal Angli­can chap­lain Revd Ior­w­erth Price said a bless­ing be­fore a trum­peter played the Last Post and three minute si­lence.

As part of the cen­te­nary 628 Vic­to­ria Cross re­cip­i­ents from the First World War are be­ing hon­oured in their birth­places.

By 2018, all the paving stones in West­min­ster’s gar­den will have been re­placed with en­graved stones, each rep­re­sent­ing one of the lo­cal VC re­cip­i­ents from the First World War.

Dig­ni­taries gather for the un­veil­ing of the com­mem­o­ra­tive stones

Cap­tain Thomas Rivers­dale Colyer-Fer­gus­son

Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Den­nis Ge­orge Wyld­bore He­witt

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