Newham remembers its World War I heroes at unveiling of first commemorative stone

27 April 2015 in Events
Today (Monday 27 April), more than 200 people witnessed the unveiling of the first commemorative stone marking the heroic actions that earned five Newham residents the Victoria Cross during World War I.
Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales; Cadet Vidas Tinteris of Newham JT Cornwell VC Sea Cadets; children from Brampton Primary School, Newham; The Honorary Vice Admiral The Lord Jeffrey Sterling of Plaistow CBE; and Newham Council’s Chief Executive Kim Bromley-Derry; and Young Mayor of Newham Yaseen Bux
The stone, honouring Midshipman George L. Drewry from Forest Gate, was unveiled by the Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and Cadet Vidas Tinteris of Newham JT Cornwell VC Sea Cadets at a special ceremony at the Central Park Cenotaph, in East Ham.

Members of the public joined schoolchildren from across the borough, representatives from G Company 7 Rifles and the Royal British Legion and a host of invited guests at the event.

Midshipman Drewry was the first person from Newham to be awarded the Victoria Cross, following his actions during the Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915. The medal is the highest award for gallantry a member of the British and Commonwealth military services can achieve.  It was given for his bravery during the landings on V Beach, Seddul Bahr, Gallipoli, when he was just 20 years old.

Under heavy fire he helped his commander secure barges to act as a bridge from the SS River Clyde, allowing soldiers to reach the shore. He swam from barge to barge to secure them despite being wounded on the head by a shell fragment.

Today’s ceremony is part of the council’s centenary commemorations to honour those from the borough who received the award during the conflict of 1914-1918.

The Victoria Cross citation at the ceremony was provided by Midshipman Charles Perrett, of HMS President, and the stone was blessed by the chaplain of the Newham JT Cornwell VC Sea Cadets The Reverend Fred Ashford-Okai.

The Mayor and Cadet Tinteris also led the laying of wreaths at the memorial.

Sir Robin said: “It is right that we remember people who have died serving their country. Though they did extraordinary things, they were ordinary people like all of us.

“We have unveiled this commemorative stone to salute George’s devotion to duty under fire and it will serve as a lasting monument to his valour. The actions he took in Gallipoli are an example of selflessness and bravery to which we can aspire to.”

Cadet Tinteris said: “I was honoured to take part in this ceremony for such an inspirational person.”

The event was also attended by The Honorary Vice Admiral The Lord Jeffrey Sterling of Plaistow CBE; the Queen’s Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Newham, John Barber; Newham Council’s Chief Executive Kim Bromley-Derry and Councillor Ian Corbett, Mayoral Advisor for Environment and Leisure.