Trib­ute to hero

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - FRONT PAGE -

A TRUE Teesside hero has been hon­oured with a statue in his home town 100 years af­ter his in­cred­i­ble feats of wartime courage.

Tom Dresser’s brav­ery saw him awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross dur­ing the First World War, but his mod­esty saw him tell those who asked about his ex­ploits: “It’s some­thing any­one would have done.”

But at an emo­tional cer­e­mony at­tended by hun­dreds in the gar­dens of the Dor­man Mu­seum in Mid­dles­brough, his grand­son Brian Dresser gave a mov­ing speech high­light­ing Mr Dresser’s courage as a statue to him was un­veiled.

Armed Forces stan­dard bear­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Mr Dresser’s reg­i­ment the Green Howards and his fam­ily watched as the statue and a com­mem­o­ra­tive stone was laid in his hon­our.

Brian said: “He never sought recog­ni­tion for his brav­ery, but I think he would have been proud to have been hon­oured in this way

“I’m grate­ful to ev­ery­one whose con­tri­bu­tions and hard work have made it pos­si­ble to pay trib­ute to a true hero in this way.”

Mr Dresser’s statue stands just yards away from an­other that cel­e­brates fel­low Green Howard Stan Hol­lis, who was awarded the VC for his brav­ery in the Sec­ond World War.

And the sculp­tor of that statue, Brian Al­abaster, also worked on the one hon­our­ing Mr Dresser.

In May 1917, Tom Dresser was serv­ing as a pri­vate in the 7th Bat­tal­ion The Green Howards in the Bat­tle of Arras in north­ern France, when the call went up for a vol­un­teer for a haz­ardous mission.

The Green Howards had won a strate­gi­cally im­por­tant trench but were pinned down by heavy gun­fire and run­ning short of am­mu­ni­tion – and a man was needed for the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble task to get word back to Bat­tal­ion Head­quar­ters. Pri­vate Dresser, 24, stepped up and af­ter reach­ing HQ set off back to the front­line with two other soldiers car­ry­ing or­ders and sacks of bombs.

De­spite be­ing shot twice he made it back across no-man’s land, crawl­ing the last 50 yards.

He was sub­se­quently evac­u­ated to Wrex­ham Hos­pi­tal for treat­ment and on July 21, with his arm still in a sling, he was awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross by King Ge­orge V at Buck­ing­ham Palace for ‘con­spic­u­ous brav­ery and de­vo­tion to duty’.

Pri­vate Dresser – who moved to Mid­dles­brough as a child from York – re­turned to Dor­man Long af­ter the war be­fore tak­ing over the fam­ily’s newsagent busi­ness, run­ning the shop on Mar­ton Road for 40 years, with his pre­cious medal in a tobacco tin behind the counter.

Canon John Lum­ley, Deputy Mayor Char­lie Rooney, Colonel Clive Man­tell on be­half of the Green Howards, and Canon Richard Cooper also spoke at the cer­e­mony which marked 100 years since King Ge­orge V awarded the VC to Pri­vate Dresser.

Brian Dresser thanked all of those who helped his fam­ily raise the money, se­cure plan­ning con­sent and get the statue sculpted in time.

The un­veil­ing of the statue of VC hero Tom Dresser at the Dor­man Mu­seum, Mid­dles­brough

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