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Burnley ceremony to remember VC heroes

Release date: 
Tuesday, 15 August, 2017

All welcome at important commemoration event

Burnley Council has released details about the next event being held as part of the borough’s programme of ‘respectful remembrance’ in relation to the First World War.

The event will be held on Saturday 2nd September in the town’s Peace Garden, outside the Central Library, from 11am.

The focus will be a commemoration of two Burnley soldiers who were awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military honour, for their bravery during the conflict.

On 31 July 1917, when Thomas Whitham was 29 years old, and a private in the Coldstream Guards, he and his comrades came under attack near Ypres, Belgium. An enemy machine-gun was firing volleys at the British battalion. Private Whitham on his own initiative immediately worked his way from shell-hole to shell-hole, reached the machine-gun and, captured it, saving many lives.

Hugh Colvin was a second lieutenant in the Cheshire Regiment. In a battle east of Ypres, Belgium, when all the other officers of his company had become casualties, Colvin took command of both companies and led them forward under heavy fire with great success.

The ceremony will centre on the unveiling of commemorative stones in honour of the men. An excerpt of a play about Thomas Whitham will be performed at the event by young people who are students at the sixth form college named after him. Descendants of both the soldiers will attend the event, and will help unveil the commemorative stones. A guard of honour will be provided by serving members of the Coldstream Guards. The Royal British Legion and veterans from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regimental Association will also be taking part.

The borough has held a number of events to mark important milestones as part of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Councillor Lian Pate, who is the council’s Armed Forces Champion and Chair of the local Armed Forces Community Covenant, said: “It’s important that Burnley remembers and commemorates the contribution of soldiers from our borough who served in the First World War. All are welcome at this event.”

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