VC heroes honoured a century on

A young descendant
A young descendant

Relatives of two Burnley soldiers who received the country’s highest military honour for their bravery in the First World War travelled to the town for a ceremony to commemorate the fallen heroes.


The event saw the unveiling of two commemorative stone plaques unveiled and also included a guard of honour from the Coldstream Guards who paraded in their ceremonial tunics.

The Coldstream Guards march through Burnley's Peace Garden

The Coldstream Guards march through Burnley's Peace Garden

The ceremony to honour Thomas Whitham and Hugh Colvin, who both received the Victoria Cross for their actions, was held in the town’s Peace Garden, outside the Central Library.

The event had a particular poignancy for a number of those attending. Relatives of both men attended, with some travelling from Northern Ireland and Wales to take part in the ceremony.

An excerpt of a play about Thomas Whitham was performed at the event by young people who are students at the sixth form college named after him. The Royal British Legion and veterans from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regimental Association also took part.

On July 31st 1917, when Thomas Whitham was 29 years old and a private in the Coldstream Guards, he and his comrades came under attack near Ypres, Belgium. An enemy machine-gun was firing volleys at the British battalion. Private Whitham on his own initiative immediately worked his way from shell-hole to shell-hole, reached the machine-gun and, captured it, saving many lives.

Poignant

Poignant

Hugh Colvin was a second lieutenant in the Cheshire Regiment. In a battle east of Ypres, Belgium, when all the other officers of his company had become casualties, Colvin took command of both companies and led them forward under heavy fire with great success.

The borough has held a number of events to mark important milestones as part of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

The Coldstream Guards

The Coldstream Guards