Visit will be trib­ute to hero bobby who won Vic­to­ria Cross

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Helping Others - By Ai­dan Bar­low

A lead­ing po­lice of­fi­cer will make a pil­grim­age to France to pay re­spects to a for­mer bobby whose brav­ery earned him a Vic­to­ria Cross dur­ing the First World War.

Sgt Harry Wells fell at the Bat­tle of Loos on Septem­ber 25, 1915, while lead­ing a pla­toon from the Royal Sus­sex Reg­i­ment to­wards Ger­man lines.

His pla­toon com­man­der and half the men had been wiped out by ma­chine-gun fire, but he re­mained calm and led the men on be­fore he him­self was killed just yards from the en­emy.

Born in 1888, he lived most of his life in the vil­lage of Herne and joined the Royal Sus­sex Reg­i­ment in 1904 at the age of 16, mostly serv­ing in In­dia.

Then in 1911 he left the army and be­came a po­lice con­sta­ble in the Kent County Con­stab­u­lary in Ash­ford but re­signed in 1913 and be­came a bar­man at The Beaver Inn in South Ash­ford.

At the on­set of the First World War he re­joined the Sus­sex regi- ment. He was awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross posthu­mously, with his mother col­lect­ing the award from King Ge­orge V at Buck­ing­ham Palace in 1916.

Now, Ch Insp Mark Arnold will be vis­it­ing the Dud Cor­ner Ceme­tery, near Loos-en-Go­helle, to com­mem­o­rate the 100th an­niver­sary of his death.

He said: “Sergeant Wells is the only per­son to have served as a po­lice of­fi­cer in Kent and to have been awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross, so we are very proud of him.

“At the Bat­tle of Loos he took com­mand and led his men for- ward to within 15 yards of the Ger­man wire. Nearly half the pla­toon were killed or wounded, but he ral­lied them and led them for­ward.

“His ci­ta­tion says he gave a mag­nif­i­cent dis­play of courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion and I am hon­oured to be able to pay trib­ute to his brav­ery on the cen­te­nary of his death.”

Re­tired of­fi­cers and John Gred­hill have or­gan­ised the trip as part of the North Kent branch of the Kent Po­lice Recre­ational As­so­ci­a­tion.

Pa­trons at The Beaver Inn are be­ing asked to raise a glass to Harry at 6pm on Fri­day, Septem- ber 25, at the pub in Kingsnorth Road.

There will also be a me­mo­rial ser­vice and a stone-lay­ing cer­e­mony at St Martin’s Church in Herne at noon the same day.

This paint­ing by Ernest Ib­bet­son de­picts the heroic Sgt Harry Wells, who died lead­ing an at­tack on Ger­man lines at the Bat­tle of Loos in 1915; he made it to within 15 yards of the wire

The war me­mo­rial at St Martin’s Church, Herne, car­ries the name of Harry Wells VC

Drinkers at the The Beaver Inn, above, will be asked to raise a glass to Harry Wells; right, Ch Insp Mark Arnold

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