A memorial stone for a World War One soldier who was awarded a Victoria Cross for his ‘bravery and initiative’ has been unveiled.
Private Samuel Needham, who was born in Great Limber in West Lindsey, got the VC for his actions in the Middle East in September 1918.
This included firing at point blank range at the enemy, to ensure his entire patrol was not cut off – his actions were described as ‘most outstanding’ at a critical situation.
The commemorative paving stone was unveiled at St Peter’s Church, in Great Limber, on Saturday, watched by more than 100 people.
Leading the service, Revd. Lee Gabel said: “It has been an honour and a privilege and a pleasure to be part of this service. I am really pleased with the way it has gone and that so many people came to be part of the service, to pay their respects and to honour Samuel Needham. It is certainly a service I shall remember and I am sure the people here will do as well.”
Chairman of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr Steve England attended the special service, along with many fellow councillors. He said: “It has been a very, very moving and touching ceremony, to commemorate a local hero.”
Private Needham was killed by an accidental gunshot wound to the head on 4 November 1918, at Kantara in Egypt, where he was buried. Seven days later the Armistice that ended the First World War was signed.
Colonel Geoffrey Newmarch, The Royal Anglian Regiment, Lincolnshire, was invited to say a few words at the event.
He said: “We are delighted to be able to commemorate Private Needham’s Victoria Cross here. He is a very courageous man, tragically he didn’t make the end of the First World War but it is very, very important that we remember these people, their gallantry and their sacrifice. And it is wonderful to have it in a beautiful location, where he was born and brought up.”
A Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories.
Her Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenant for Lincolnshire, Andrew Clark, officially unveiled the Paving Stone. He said: “It was clearly a very significant event, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the award of the highest distinction for valour to Samuel Needham. It was beautifully organised by West Lindsey District Council and the presence of the Military standard bearers and a large group of people really lent great dignity to a wonderful very fitting event. I particularly noticed during the periods of silence what a lovely church yard it was, listening to nothing but the bird song.”
Commemorative stones were produced by the Government for each of the 628 recipients of the Victoria Cross in the UK, to mark the centenary of the start of the outbreak of the First World War.
The stones honour their bravery and provide a lasting legacy of local heroes within communities and enable residents to gain a greater understanding of how their area fitted into the First World War story.
Clive Jewell, (63) of Galway, Ireland has always been interested in military history and Victoria Cross recipients in particular. He has been to see around 100 of the commemorative stones.
He said: “I get a lot of pleasure coming over to show my respects for these soldiers for what they have done for people like me and our generation. They sacrifice their lives to give us what we have got today, it can bring a tear to your eye. The ceremony was in a nice setting and the stone will be well protected here.”