Memorial for Shropshire VC soldier to be unveiled
A memorial to one of Shropshire's First World War heroes will be unveiled in May.
Private Harold Whitfield was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918, in action against the Turks in Palestine, while serving in the King's Shropshire Light Infantry.
The centenary of the action at Burj El Lisaneh is on March 10 and, to mark the date a Government Department announced it was presenting Shropshire Council with a commemorative paving stone.
Oswestry Town Council has taken on the role of ensuring that the stone is put on display.
Councillors at a meeting on Monday agreed that it should be mounted on a plinth and put at the front of Cae Glas Park where there are already a number of commemorative plaques and the Memorial Gates, inscribed with the names of those who lost their lives in the two World Wars.
Town Clerk, David Preston, said the paving stone had only recently come to Shropshire and it would not be possible to install it on the centenary.
Instead councillors agreed to hold a ceremony on May 8, the centenary of when news of the award was placed in The Gazette, the official public record.
The medal was awarded "for most conspicuous bravery, initiative and absolute disregard of personal safety".
Mayor, Councillor Vince Hunt, said: "As this is a week day we can involve local schoolchildren."
He also appealed to local businesses to come forward to help sponsor a plinth on which to mount the paving slab.
After the war the soldier continued service rising to the rank of Squadron Sergeant Major, retiring in 1936 after 28 years service.
Ironically Mr Whitfield was killed at the age of 71 in a collision between his bicycle and an army vehicle in December 1956.
He was cycling from his work at the Express Dairies in Whittington to Oswestry when the accident happened.
His Victoria Cross was placed in an Oswestry bank for safekeeping but in 1976 it was stolen by a bank clerk who went on to try to sell the medal in London.
A dealer gave him £1,500 but then went on to stop the cheque when he started to investigate its history.
The money was repaid, the medal returned and the bank clerk was given a sentence of 200 hours community service.
In 2000 Mr Whitfield’s family presented the VC and other memorabilia to Shropshire Regimental Museum at Shrewsbury Castle.