Victoria Cross Recipient To Be Commemorated At Special Ceremony

Dr Johnson Beharry VC is one of the countries only living recipients of the Victoria Cross

One of the country’s only living Victoria Cross recipients will pay his respects to a Stourbridge war hero at a special ceremony this Sunday.

Dr Johnson Beharry VC will join other honoured guests including The Mayor of Dudley, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Richard Lockett, Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Colonel Tom Lloyd and the High Sherriff of the West Midlands, Dr Keith Bradshaw DL in a memorial service on Sunday (April 9) to commemorate the bravery of fellow Victoria Cross recipient, Lance Corporal Thomas Bryan.

Bryan, born in Lye in 1882, was awarded the highest military decoration during the First World War where he fought in the 25thBattalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

This Sunday (April 9th) marks 100 years since the start of the Battle of Arras, which saw the Fusiliers advance but their movement halted by a German machine-gun.  Lance Corporal Bryan and his superior Captain Huntley set out to find it, sadly Huntley was killed by a sniper, but Bryan went on alone and was able to disable the gun.  

It was for this act of bravery that Bryan was honoured and in June 1917 he was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V in front of a crowd of 40,000 people at St James Park, Newcastle.

And now, 100 years later during Sunday’s service, a special stone will be unveiled in his memory at Mary Stevens Park in the presence of Beharry, one of only a handful of living Victoria Cross recipients in the country.

Beharry was awarded his medal in 2005 for his ‘individual acts of great heroism by which he saved the lives of his comrades’ as a Lance Sergeant in Iraq on May 1 2004. Beharry was driving an armoured vehicle, which was hit by a multiple rocket propelled grenades. 

A number of soldiers were injured and Beharry was forced to open his hatch to steer his vehicle and expose himself to enemy fire.  He drove the crippled vehicle through the ambush, taking his own crew and leading five other vehicles to safety. Councillor Mohammed Hanif, the Mayor of Dudley, said:

“The bravery and efforts of Lance Corporal Thomas Bryan should never be forgotten.  He put his life on the line to protect his comrades with little regard for his own safety.  Sunday’s commemoration gives us the opportunity to give thanks for all he did and create a lasting memorial in his honour.

“I will also be delighted to welcome Dr Johnson Beharry VC to the borough as part of this special event.”

The borough commemoration which includes a short service led by Reverend Simon Falshaw, and the unveiling of the memorial stone will take place at 2pm at the war memorial in Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge.

Lance Corporal Bryan’s memorial will be the second of three to be installed across the borough, joining Second Lieutenant Baxter’s memorial also located in Mary Steven’s Park. The third memorial to Private Thomas Barratt of Coseley will be commemorated on 27 July. Each plaque is unveiled 100 years to the day of each man’s VC achievement.


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