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Victoria Cross Memorial Stones Unveiling

A set of memorial stones to commemorate Wirral’s World War One Victoria Cross recipients will be unveiled this week.

The stones will be unveiled by Wirral’s Mayor, Cllr Tony Smith and Deputy Lieutenant, Colonel Martin Amlot OBE, OStJ DL, during a ceremony at Hamilton Square, Birkenhead at 12noon on Wednesday 25 September.

The Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for valour in the United Kingdom, was awarded to 628 individuals during the First World War and this service will see commemorative stones unveiled for the nine recipients, from Wirral or with very close connections to the peninsula.

The memorial stones are dedicated to: Edgar Christopher Cookson, Lieutenant Commander at The Royal Navy, Cyril Edward Gourley, Sergeant “D” Battery 276th for Royal Field Artillery (West Lancashire Brigade), Christopher Bushell, Lieutenant Colonel Commanding 7th (S) Battalion for The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment (S.R), Thomas Neely, Corporal 8th Battalion for The King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), Arthur Herbert Proctor, Private and later The Reverent 1/5th Battalion for The King’s (Liverpool Regiment), Frank Lester, Private 10th Battalion for The Lancashire Fusiliers, John Thomas Davies, Corporal 11th (Service) Battalion for South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers), William La Touche Congreve, Brevet Major for The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own) and John O’Neill, Sergeant 2nd Battalion for Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians).

The Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Tony Smith stated: “It is an honour to be invited to unveil the commemorative stones of the Wirral recipients of the Victoria Cross from World War One. Their bravery and devotion to duty have made them this country’s greatest heroes.”

Each stone, made of York stone Scoutmoor, includes the name of the individual, the Rank and Regiment of the individual (at the time the VC was awarded) and the date of the action for which the VC was awarded.

The Bishop of Birkenhead, Reverend Keith Sinclair, will conduct the ceremony, opening at 12noon, and The Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Tony Smith will unveil the memorial stones and lay one of the first wreaths along with Deputy Lieutenant, Colonel Martin Amlot OBE, OStJ DL. The Royal Navy, Royal Field Artillery, Royal West Surrey, The King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), The King’s (Liverpool Regiment), The Lancashire Fusiliers, The South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), The Rifle Brigade, The Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), The Royal British Legion and families will also lay wreaths.

Cllr Tony Smith, added: “These local individuals will never be forgotten, and these commemorative memorial stones will allow future generations to further recognise the massive sacrifices made by that generation.”

The design for these memorial stones was chosen through a competition, open to the public. Each of the competition entries were judged by a panel of seven judges: Sebastian Faulks, Michael Burleigh, Major General Patrick Cordingley, Dame Helen Ghosh, Diane Lees, Lord Ashcroft and L/Sgt. Johnson Beharry VC. Charlie MacKeith, an architect and the director of Research Design Architecture, was the overall competition winner.

The paving stones are made of a very hard-wearing British stone that is quarried near Ramsbottom.