East Riding VC hero honoured

Newton upon Derwent parish councillors Trevor Horsley and Michael Readman with Newton Charity Trustees chairman Neville Simpson (right).
Newton upon Derwent parish councillors Trevor Horsley and Michael Readman with Newton Charity Trustees chairman Neville Simpson (right).

The First World War’s only Victoria Cross winner to be born in the East Riding will have a permanent memorial in his home village of Newton upon Derwent unveiled later this year.

The Government has confirmed that it will be delivering a commemorative stone paver to recognise the heroic exploits of Harry Blanshard Wood, who won the VC in October 1918.

VC Hero Harry Wood.

VC Hero Harry Wood.

Harry Wood was born in Newton upon Derwent in June 1882. He was from a local farming family, but he became a professional soldier, serving with the Scots Guards.

He had a quite unexceptional military career.

All that changed in the final weeks of the war when he was awarded the Military Medal for his actions in the trenches in August 1918. This was followed up by earning the Victoria Cross just two months later.

He returned home a hero, and was chosen as one of Britain’s 100 bravest men to form the guard of honour at the burial of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey in 1920.

His remarkable story had a bizarre and tragic ending in 1924, when his wife was involved in a minor traffic incident and he collapsed with shock, never recovered and died a few days later.

In August 2013, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced a campaign to honour all Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War by laying commemorative paving stones on the 100th anniversary of their award.

Newton upon Derwent’s claim to the tribute as Wood’s birthplace had been challenged by Bristol, where he was buried.

Villagers are now planning a programme of events culminating in the grand unveiling on Saturday 13 October involving many different organisations and dignitaries from across the East Riding.

The date marks the Centenary of Harry Wood’s VC actions and the event is expected to be a huge occasion.

The news of the paver coming to Newton on Derwent was only confirmed last week by the Government.

Margaret Horsley, who organised a local history weekend in Newton in 2014 featuring Wood, said: “All our plans are now centred on Saturday 13 October, which is the centenary of Mr Wood’s VC actions, when he actually earned the medal.

“He is the only East Riding VC holder from the First World War and we are expecting dignitaries from across the region, representatives from the Royal British Legion, Scouts, Cubs and many other organisations.

“We are hoping the Scots Guards will send some representatives on the day.

“Harry was born in Newton in 1882 and his parents lived in the village so it is fitting that the memorial will be placed here.

“We are hoping to put on refreshments in the chapel on the day after the £40,000 refurbishments are completed.”

More details of the ceremony in October will be revealed in due course.