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Final commemorative stone laid recognising Newham’s Great War heroes

29 March 2018 in Events
A young second lieutenant awarded the Victoria Cross after he was killed in one of the final German offensives of World War I, has been commemorated on the anniversary of his death. 
Bernard Cassidy from Canning Town was the final recipient of five Victoria Cross Stones laid at the cenotaph in Central Park by Newham Council to mark the courageous actions of Newham residents during World War I. The unveiling was carried out on 28 March at the cenotaph by Bernard’s nephew, Derek Cassidy, Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and the Chief Executive of Newham Council, Kim Bromley-Derry. The event marks 100 years since Bernard was killed on 28 March 1918.

Bernard Cassidy was born in August 1892 and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers and was sent to the battlefields of France.

At Arras during the German’s Spring Offensive, Second Lieutenant Bernard, who was in charge of his company on the left flank of his battalion, was ordered to hold the position to the last. He was killed in one of the final German offensives of the war. His remains were never recovered.

The Victoria Cross was awarded to Bernard for his “most conspicuous bravery, self-sacrifice and exceptional devotion to duty during a hostile attack.” It is the highest award for gallantry a member of the British and Commonwealth military services can achieve.

His death was recorded in the London Gazette, where he was praised for his efforts of clearing out trenches and rallying his men while under continuous bombardment.

Derek Cassidy said: “I think my uncle knew he was going to die because he was ordered to hold his position to the last. He knew it was going to be his last stand which is incredible.

“The unveiling of the memorial is important, not just for me and the family but for the borough as well. It has been 100 years since Bernard’s sacrifice and it has not been, and never will be, forgotten.”

Kim Bromley-Derry said: “The VC stone laid to commemorate Bernard Cassidy will join the other four already laid at the Cenotaph to remember the sacrifices local heroes made during the Great War. These men were an inspiration to their community and it is important that they are never forgotten.

“It is essential we recognise the brave and selfless actions of these brave men. This monument will inspire future generations, reminding us all what they gave up so that we could live.”
  • The other four VC stones laid are for:
  • Lieutenant George Drewry Act of Bravery: 25/26 April 1915
  • Captain Edgar Myles Act of Bravery: 9 April 1916
  • Boy Seaman First Class Jack Cornwell Act of Bravery: 31 May 1916
  • Lance-Corporal Harold Mugford Act of Bravery: 11 April 1917
  • Second Lieutenant Bernard Cassidy Act of Bravery: 28 March 1918.​