THE graves of First World War Victoria Cross heroes in Dorset are to be refurbished.
The Government has announced £100,000 towards the restoration of the final resting places of the fallen to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War.
The project aims to restore all of these graves in need of repair. Headstones will be cleaned or replaced so that the final resting place of those who received the highest military award for valour is a fitting tribute to their sacrifice.
The graves include those of the Rev Edward Mellish, buried at Weymouth Crematorium, Lt Victor Crutchley, who is buried at St Mary’s, Powerstock, and Lt William Rhodes-Moorhouse, buried at Parnham House.
The grave of Pte Jack Counter of The King’s Liverpool Regiment, born in Blandford Forum, who is buried at St Saviour’s, St Helier, Jersey will also be refurbished.
This new funding will give a significant boost to funds already being raised by the Victoria Cross Trust – a charitable organisation that works to ensure the graves of every Victoria Cross recipient are maintained.
While some graves only require minor work, others have fallen into disrepair – headstones have become illegible; stones have crumbled away leaving them unstable; and some are in danger of collapse. Many people are unaware that a Victoria Cross recipient is buried in their community.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “An entire generation of men fought for Britain’s freedom in the First World War and all fought valiantly.
“But for hundreds of those men their bravery was of such an exceptional nature they were bestowed with the highest military award, the Victoria Cross.
“As these men were honoured then for their extreme bravery on the battlefields, they should be honoured still. That is why I am privileged to offer more than £100,000 towards this project.
“This will make sure the graves of our Victoria Cross heroes become places to reflect on their selfless service. Alongside the creation of commemorative paving stones we will create a fitting tribute.”
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and the part Dorset played in hostilities, the Dorset Echo is collecting photographs, documents and memories for a special publication.
If you have any family archive materials you would like to share – to be returned to you – contact the Newsdesk at Dorset Echo, Fleet House, Hampshire Road, Weymouth DT4 9XD, call 01305 830999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org