HONOUR FOR WAR HEROES; Historian Wins Two-Year Campaign for Memorial

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Byline: BY FIONNUALA BOURKE

A MIDLAND city is to honour its forgotten war heroes with a special plaque dedicated to their memory.

Local historian Chris Sutton has been campaigning for the memorial to be erected in Birmingham for Victoria Cross and George Cross medal holders.

Now the city council has agreed for a permanent plaque to be placed in Centenary Square by the end of the year.

It will feature 21 Victoria Cross medal holders and nine servicemen who were awarded the George Cross.

Chris said: "I'm really pleased and proud that the council has agreed to erect this memorial, as I've been campaigning for two years for it.

"I read about the bravery of some of the men and was shocked that a permanent memorial had not already been commissioned."

Families of Birmingham Victoria and George Cross medal holders were asked to contact Chris for their names to be included.

A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council said: "We've got 30 names at the moment. But there is still the chance to add more if a name has not been included.

"We will also ensure that space is left for any names that need to be added in the future.

"We are planning to erect the plaque on the Hall of Memory. If planning permission is granted, it should be put up by the end of the year."

The Victoria Cross is the most prestigious military medal in Britain, while the George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the Commonwealth nations.

The first Birmingham soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross was James Cooper, a private in the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment, who won the medal during the Andaman Islands Expedition in India in 1867.

His citation says the 27 year-old risked his life along with four others to row a boat "through dangerous waters to rescue their comrades feared murdered by cannibals."

The hero is buried at Warstone Lane Key Hill Cemetery in Hockley, Birmingham.

Also featured is Samuel Wassall, a private in the 80th Regiment (later The South Staffordshire Regiment), during the Zulu War.

The 22 year-old, from Digbeth, rescued a colleague from drowning under heavy fire after dismounting his horse on the enemy side at Isandhlwana in 1879.

The last Victoria Cross holder recorded by the council is John Kenneally, who served as a Lance Corporal in the Irish Guards during the Second World War. …