VC hero honoured

Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire Susan Cunliffe-Lister unveils the memorial to Harry Blanshard Wood.
Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire Susan Cunliffe-Lister unveils the memorial to Harry Blanshard Wood.

A Victoria Cross commemorative stone in honour of a First World war hero has been unveiled in Newton on Derwent.

The stone, in honour of Corporal Harry Blanshard Wood, VC, MM 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, was unveiled on Saturday in front of hundreds of people.

VC hero Harry Blanshard Wood.

VC hero Harry Blanshard Wood.

The ceremony took place exactly 100 years after the brave actions which earned him the Victoria Cross.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council organised the ceremony to mark the unveiling of the commemorative stone, by the Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Hon Mrs Susan Cunliffe-Lister. The stone was dedicated and blessed by the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu.

The ceremony was preceded by a parade from the Half Moon Inn with a Scots Guards Piper leading the dignitaries and spectators.

Dignitaries from state, church and armed services joined Newton villagers and members of his family to unveil the plinth at the end of the village, just yards from where he spent his early years.

The civic and religious dignitaries section of the parade, headed by the Lord-Lieutenant and the Archbishop of York.

The civic and religious dignitaries section of the parade, headed by the Lord-Lieutenant and the Archbishop of York.

The memorial supports a Government VC paver alongside a stome bearing his portrait and details of his life and deed that had been commissioned by locals led by villager Margaret Horsley.

Born into a Newton on Derwent farming family in June 1882, Harry Wood won both the Military Medal and Victoria Cross for two acts of exceptional gallantry in the closing weeks of the war.

He returned home a hero, met the King three times in the next two years and was chosen as one of Britain’s bravest men to be part of the guard of honour for the burial of the unknown warrior in Westminster Abbey in 1920.

But his exploits had taken their toll, his health suffered and when his wife was in a minor accident on holiday in Devon in 1924 he collapsed with shock and never recovered, dying a few days later.

Local Royal British Legion standard bearers and Newton on Derwent villagers at the Harry Blanshard Wood ceremony.

Local Royal British Legion standard bearers and Newton on Derwent villagers at the Harry Blanshard Wood ceremony.

Buried in Britol, his story had never been fully recognised in his home county until the Government announced in 2014 it was commemorating all WWI VC winners with a special paver. That saw Newton locals link up with East Riding council officials for the events.

Most of the villagers of Newton on Derwent, population just over 300, were in attendance and VIPs from near and far came to join them for the unveiling ceremony.

Hon Mrs Susan Cunliffe-Lister, the Queen’s local representative in the East Riding, unveiled the plinth while the county’s High Sheriff was also in attendance, along with chairmen and mayors from local council.

There were prayers and blessings from Reverend Aysha St Giles, Priest in Charge of The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Wilberfoss, from Archbishop of York, The Most Reverend and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, and from Rev Neville Simpson, the Methodist minister for Newton on Derwent. Readings followed from Scots Guards’ officers Brigadier Kim Ross, OBE, Major-General Murray Naylor, CB, MBE, DL, and Major James Kelly, Regimental Adjutant.

Scots Guardsmen at the ceremony.

Scots Guardsmen at the ceremony.

Further tributes and readings came from Colin Wragg, on behalf of the Wood family, the deputy mayor of St Python, the village in France where Wood won his VC, and Kevin Warcup of The Royal British Legion’s Pockington Branch.