Social and Cultural Events
Victoria Cross Commemoration
As part of the programme of events for the centenary anniversary of the First World War, Newham Council is holding a series of special commemorative ceremonies in honour of the soldiers who were awarded the Victoria Cross - the highest military award for gallantry and valour in the face of the enemy.
These ceremonies are part of a nation wide programme that celebrates Victoria Cross recipients: the intent is to honour their actions, provide a lasting legacy of local heroes within communities and enable residents to develop a better understanding of the role of their areas during the First World War. This programme will last over the four years of the anniversary, from 2015 to 2018, with Newham Council hosting 5 commemorative events in which paving stones will be laid in the Cenotaph area of Central Park.
The first ceremony was held on the 27th April 2015 to commemorate Midshipman George Drewry - the first person from Newham to be presented with the prestigious award following his actions in April 1915. His bravery allowed soldiers to reach the shore as part of the landing on V Beach in Seddul Bahr in Gallipoli at the outset of the battle of Gallipoli. George’s commemorative stone was laid by Mayor Sir Robin Wales in the presence of representatives of civil and military authorities, school children from across the borough and members of the public.
The second commemoration took place the 11th of April 2016 in honour of the Second Lieutenant Edgar K. Myles, who was awarded the cross for his bravery during action in Sanna-i-Yat in Mesopotamia. He received the Victoria Cross for his actions when he went out alone, under heavy fire, multiple times to assist wounded men lying in the open. Despite being wounded himself he managed to carry a wounded officer back to safety. His stone was unveiled by the Deputy Mayor of Newham, Councillor Lester Hudson, and Ian Newson who is a relative of Second Lieutenant Myles.
The third ceremony will be to remember Jack Cornwell. Aged just 16 when he died, Jack showed courageous behaviour during the Battle of Jutland on board HMS Chester. He was severely wounded early in action and he nevertheless remained standing alone at a very exposed post, quietly awaiting orders till the end of the action. He died of his wounds and was initially buried in a private ceremony in a communal grave. However, due to strong public opinion, he was reburied with full naval honours. Jacks’ legacy has always been very much alive in Newham and beyond. At the time many awards and funds were established in his honour, public places and centres were named after him and in 2001, the Borough of Newham introduced The Jack Cornwell Bravery Award for outstanding acts of bravery by Newham people.
A further two ceremonies will be held in the between 2016 and 2018 to remember and honour the individuals contributions of these local heroes who are often forgotten.