Commemorative stone unveiled in memory of Norfolk war hero
PUBLISHED: 18:00 25 March 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
A memorial stone has been dedicated to a Norfolk war hero 100 years after he earned a Victoria Cross for his courage.
A poignant service was held in honour of Arthur Henry Cross at the All Saints Church in Shipdham on Sunday and the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson unveiled a commemorative paving stone.
The stone was blessed by the Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Rev Jonathan Meyrick, and there was a moment of silence before a uniformed bugler played the Last Post.
Wreaths were then laid by council and military representatives and the event concluded with the National Anthem.
Shipdham Parish Council chairman Bill Fawcett said the event was the only one of its kind within the Breckland area, and one of very few nationally.
At the service Breckland and parish councillor Lynda Turner described Mr Cross’ heroic act in the trenches at Ervillers, France, on March 25 1918.
As a member of the 40th Battalion Machine Gun Corps, he had volunteered to investigate the position of two machine guns which had been captured by the enemy.
With only his service revolver he took on seven enemy soldiers, who responded by throwing down their rifles. He then marched them - carrying the machine guns, complete with the tripods and ammunition - back to the British lines.
The prisoners were handed over and Mr Cross gathered teams to man the guns, which were used to fight off a heavy attack.
He was decorated with his VC at Buckingham Palace on September 4, 1918, for “most conspicuous bravery and initiative”.
After the war he settled down in Lambeth, where he lived for 30 years before passing away in 1965.
Breckland Council vice chairman Richard Duffield said: “An entire generation of men fought, and many died, for Britain in the First World War. Although many were barely more than schoolchildren, they displayed exceptional courage while enduring unspeakable horrors and it is our duty to keep their memories alive.
“Arthur put his own life in great peril to save others and his story continues to inspire us all. We are proud to honour his memory today and future generations will continue to pay their respects after the stone is laid.”