A First World War hero from Stratfield Saye who received the Victoria Cross is to be honoured with a commemorative paving stone, writes Matthew Brown.
Lance Corporal James Welch VC received the highest award that can be bestowed on a British soldier after an act of immense selflessness on a battlefield in northern France.
It was during the Battle of Arras on April 29, 1917, which marked the beginning of the spring offensive on the Western Front, that he carried out the acts of bravery for which he was honoured.
Welch gallantly entered a German trench, killing a soldier after a brutal hand-to-hand struggle and then, armed with an empty revolver, chased four enemy soldiers into the open and captured them single-handedly.
Aged 27, he then fearlessly manned his machine-gun and despite being exposed to heavy fire, returned to the open to search for and collect ammunition and spare parts in order to keep his guns in action.
He did this for five hours until being wounded by a shell.
Welch went on to become a Sergeant and died in Bournemouth in 1978.
The stone will be unveiled in Stratfield exactly 100 years on from Lance Corporal Welch’s heroism on April 29 in the presence of grandchildren and descendants, alongside local dignitaries.
“The commemorative stone provides a lasting legacy to a local hero, and is a fitting tribute to mark the centenary of the action,” said Ian Pearson, chairman of Stratfield Saye Parish Council.
“It is only right and proper we pay our tribute to him.”
The stone is symbolic of the centenary commemoration of the Great War and gives councils memorials in areas where Victoria Cross recipients lived.
People will meet at the village hall from 10.15am ahead of a procession at 10.45am along New Street.