engraved stones to honour Great War heroes
TWO Stockport war heroes are to be honoured with engraved paving stones.
As part of the national First World War centenary commemorations, a stone will be laid in the birth towns of soldiers who received the Victoria Cross. Wilfred Wood, from Hazel Grove, and James Kirk, from Cheadle Hulme, were awarded this prestigious medal for bravery. Their commemorative stones will be unveiled exactly 100 years to the day since they were awarded the VC.
Wilfred, born on February 2, 1897, was a private from the 10th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers, and was awarded the VC on October 28, 1918, for his bravery and initiative at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in Italy, which took place between October 24 and November 3, 1918 and was seen as a decisive victory that contributed to the end of the war. His actions under fire caused hundreds of enemy soldiers to surrender.
When Wilfred returned home, he worked for London and North Western Railway (LNWR) for 46 years. He was married to wife Bessie for 57 years. He died on January 3, 1982, and was cremated at Stockport Crematorium five days later.
James, meanwhile, was a second lieutenant from the 10th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment, born on January 27, 1897. He was posthumously awarded the VC for his bravery and devotion to duty near Ors in northern France, where he prevented many casualties and enabled men from his battalion to cross a bridge before it was destroyed.
He was killed in action on November 4, 1918, and is buried alongside the poet Wilfred Owen, who served with him in the Second Battalion and was also killed during the crossing. They are buried in the Ors Communal Cemetery, France.
James’ parents were presented with his posthumous VC by King George V in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace on March 1, 1919.
A commemorative service to unveil Wilfred’s commemorative stone was held on Saturday (October 28) at Hazel Grove Memorial, while James’ stone will be unveiled this Sunday (November 4) at Cheadle Hulme War Memorial.
The mayor of Stockport, Coun Walter Brett, said: “It is a great honour for Stockport that we can recognise Wilfred and James’ heroic actions, unveiling a dedicated paving stone in their honour along with their families, is a great privilege.”
●●James Kirk, left, and Wilfred Wood – who both won the Victoria Cross – and their paving stones