Tribute to hero
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