Victoria Cross Commemorative Paving Stone Project


Type: Community partnership

Seven special paving stones will be unveiled in County Durham between 2015 and 2018 as part of the First World War centenary commemorations. These are the men who will be commemorated:

2015
Thomas Kenny born in South Wingate; awarded the Victoria Cross for valour on 4 November 1915

2016
Roland Bradford born in Witton Park; awarded the Victoria Cross for valour on 1 October 1916
The paving stone for Roland Bradford was unveiled on Saturday 11 March 2017 in Witton Park, to coincide with the opening of a new memorial garden

2017
Michael Heaviside born in Durham City; awarded the Victoria Cross for valour on 6 May 1917
Commemorative events took place in Gilesgate, Durham City, on Saturday 6 May and in the Craghead area on Wednesday 12 July 2017
Victoria Cross hero to be remembered in day of commemoration

2018
George Bradford born in Witton Park; awarded the Victoria Cross for valour on 23 April 1918
The paving stone for George Bradford will be unveiled on Saturday 21 April 2018 in Witton Park memorial garden

George McKean born in Willington; awarded the Victoria Cross for valour on 27/28 April 1918
The paving stone for George McKean will be unveiled on Saturday 28 April 1918 in Willington at 11.00 am

John Youll born in Thornley; awarded the Victoria Cross for valour on 15 June 1918

William McNally born in Murton; awarded the Victoria Cross for valour on 27-29 October 1918

For Valour, an exhibition at the former DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery in 2015, told the stories of 10 men who were born in the county, or served with the Durham Light Infantry, and received the Victoria Cross (VC) for their actions during the 1914-1918 conflict.

For Valour exhibition at the former DLI Museum
For Valour exhibition at the DLI Museum. Image © John Attle

 

All 10 performed extraordinary acts of courage, risking, and in many cases losing, their own lives in the process.

The seven paving stones formed the centrepiece of the exhibition. Each stone is inscribed with the name of one of the soldiers, their rank, regiment and the date of the action for which they received the VC. The stones will eventually be laid in the town or village where the soldier was born.

The story of Private Thomas Kenny was among those featured in the exhibition. Born in South Wingate, Pte Kenny was working as a miner when he enlisted in the army in 1914.

While on patrol in No Man’s Land in November 1915, Pte Kenny came to the rescue of Lieutenant Philip Brown. The young officer had been shot through both thighs. Pte Kenny carried him for over an hour through thick fog and while under fire before he was able to fetch help from the frontline.

Kenny received his VC from King George V at Buckingham Palace in March 1916 and received a hero’s welcome on his return home.

The stone commemorating Pte Kenny’s bravery was placed in his home town on 4 November 2015 – exactly one hundred years after his tremendous act of bravery.

Information from the ‘For Valour’ exhibition is now available at the new DLI Collection Research and Study Centre at Sevenhills, Spennymoor DL16 6JB.

Unveiling of Thomas Kenny VC commemorative paving stone