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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Cumbria war heroes’ graves to be restored to their former glory

THE graves of servicemen who were awarded the Victoria Cross for acts of immense bravery will be restored to their former glory.

The graves of four men from Cumbria, who all received the top military honour between 1915 and 1918, will be cleaned or replaced as a fitting tribute to their incredible sacrifice.

The restoration follows the announcement of £100,000 in funding from the government to the Victoria Cross Trust – a charity that works to ensure the memory of every VC recipient is maintained.

William Forshaw, from Barrow, Tom Mayson, from Millom, James Hewitson, from Coniston, and Harry Christian, from Pennington, were all awarded the Victoria Cross for their daring acts of courage during the First World War.

Parts of their graves have fallen into disrepair, with headstones becoming illegible and stones crumbling away.

The money will be spent restoring their final resting places so more residents can read about their inspiring stories and pay their respects.

Gary Stapleton, Victoria Cross Trust founder, said: “(The funding) is a massive boost that will help us transform graves in this special year marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War.”

Lieutenant William Forshaw was awarded the Victoria Cross for throwing bombs against the enemy in Gallipoli, Turkey, continuously for 40 hours and later recapturing a lost trench by shooting dead three men.

Lance-Sergeant Tom Mayson was recognised for allowing his platoon to advance in Wieltje, Belgium, by running to a gun post and taking out the enemy, without waiting for orders.

It is believed his actions saved many lives.

Lance-Corporal James Hewitson, who is buried at St Andrew’s Churchyard in Coniston, was awarded the Victoria Cross for protecting a group of soldiers from a machine-gun team and a bombing party on April 26 1918 in Givenchy, France.

And Private Harry Christian carried three men to safety in Cuinchy, France, one after each other, whilst German bombs were exploding around him.

Tim Farron, the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale is among those to welcome the initiative – particurlarly in the case of Lance-Corporal Hewitson.

He said: “This funding is very welcome and will highlight the heroism of James and his service to our country.

“Like many soldiers today, we thank them for their service and this funding will allow us to pay tribute to a man who was given the highest honour for gallantry available.”

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