THE graves of several Victoria Cross heroes from North and East Yorkshire are set to be restored with new funding from the Government.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced a £100,000 grant towards the restoration of graves of First World War VC recipients, including 16 across Yorkshire and the Humber, along with the graves of a further 10 soldiers who were born in the region but buried elsewhere.
These include Pickering-born Private Tom Dresser, of the Prince of Wales’ Own Regiment, who died in 1917 and is buried at Thorntree Cemetery in Middlesbrough, and Pocklington-born Corporal Harry Wood, of the Scots Guards, who died in 1918 and whose grave is in Bristol.
Another grave belongs to Harrogate-born Charles Hull, of the Empress of India’s Lancers, who died in 1915 and is buried in Woodhouse Lane Cemetery in Leeds.
The Cabinet Office said the grave of a Thomas Wilkinson VC at York Cemetery was also to be restored, but inquiries by The Press revealed this former soldier was actually a Crimean War veteran whose 19th century grave was in good condition.
Another Thomas Wilkinson, who was born in Shropshire and served in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, did win the VC for heroism in the First World War but has no grave because his body could not be recovered.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said there had clearly been an error in the information provided.
Under the scheme, headstones will be cleaned or replaced so the final resting place of those who received the highest military award for valour is a truly fitting tribute to their sacrifice, he said.
While some graves only require minor work, others have fallen into disrepair – headstones have become illegible; stones have crumbled away leaving them unstable; and some are in danger of collapse.
As a result many people are unaware a Victoria Cross recipient is buried in their community.
The new funding will give a significant boost to funds already being raised by the Victoria Cross Trust – a charitable organisation that works to ensure the graves of every Victoria Cross recipient are maintained.
Mr Pickles said an entire generation of men fought for Britain’s freedom in the First World War and all fought valiantly, but for hundreds of those men, their bravery was of such an exceptional nature that they were bestowed with the highest military award, the Victoria Cross,and they should be honoured still.