WWII Naval Poem
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Bill Platt was invited into the Walsall Mayors Parlour for tea & stickys on completion of a service of memorial on the 100th anniversary of the death of John Henry Carless VC RN. Bill was representing his local RNA branch of which he is president (and rum bosun).
This is the official write-up of the days event
Walsall honours its Victoria Cross holders on 100th anniversary of John Carless
Walsall Council has today formally honoured its three Victoria Cross holders, James Thompson, John Carless and Charles Bonner in a series of civic ceremonies across the town. The Victoria Cross is the highest British military award for gallantry in the land. It is very rare and only awarded for conspicuous bravery or devotion to country in the face of the enemy. Walsall is quite unusual in that it has three VC holders who all hail from the town.
All of today’s commemorative ceremonies simultaneously marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of ‘Ordinary Seaman’ John Carless on his ship HMS Caledon on 17 November 1917. As part of the commemoration, Walsall Mayor Councillor Marco Longhi unveiled a unique paving stone at the Leather Museum to honour the less well known VC recipient James Thompson.
Civic events involving senior military figureheads and veterans, the Mayor, educators school children as well as ancestors of the VC holders, have taken place today at St Mary’s the Mount Primary School, as well as the Leather Museum and Council Mayoral Parlour. The special assembly for John Carless at the site of his former Primary School was led by Head Teacher Mrs Catherine Amos and attended by civic dignitaries including the West Midlands’ Deputy Lieutenant Tom Lloyd OBE TD DL and Walsall’s Mayor. Ancestors of the Carless family, naval veterans, school pupils all gave thanks to his extraordinary spirit and bravery.
Head teacher Mrs Catherine Amos said: “We are honoured and privileged to be marking the 100th Anniversary of the death of John Henry Carless’ Victoria Cross recipient, and former pupil at the school. Today is a landmark in the history of St Mary’s the Mount. We have kept John’s legacy alive and the children know why he is still so important. His family has attended the school throughout the years and today his great, great, great nephew is in our Year 1 class. As our children often say; 'This man is our hero!'
The second event at Walsall Leather Museum was officiated by Walsall Mayor Cllr Marco Longhi in front Deputy Lieutenant Tom Lloyd OBE TD DL and assorted civic members, family and guests. The Mayor unveiled a specially commissioned and engraved plaque to formally recognise the significance of Army veteran James Thompson. Private Thompson, the lesser known of the three VC holders, joined the 1st Battalion, 60th Rifles (“The Rifles”) in 1952, and saved the life of his Captain during the Indian Mutiny of 1856. Queen Victoria presented his medal to him in November 1860. The Mayor who also unveiled the Victoria Cross exhibition, paid special tribute to James Thompson and officiated at the viewing of the original “blue ribbon” Victoria Cross belonging to John Carless.
The valuable medal which was given to the borough of Walsall by the nephew of Carless was only on view for a short time. It was awarded posthumously to the parents of the 21 year old Ordinary Seaman by King George V and Queen Mary in1918. He earned it for his incredible bravery at sea during World War One when he stayed at his ship’s post protecting his fellow seaman even though he had been mortally wounded.
Cllr Ian Shires Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure & Culture in the Borough said. “The significance of these three men to the Walsall is tremendous. Victoria Crosses are extraordinarily rare, so to have three war heroes hailing from our town is amazing.”
“I’m very pleased to see that James Thompson has also been afforded special recognition by the borough, too. Although he is probably not as well known as the World War One medal holders Charles Bonner and John Carless, he is very important to us. His engraved stone, unveiled today in front of his great grandson will be on show at the Leather Museum along with a formal exhibition telling each of the men’s special stories.”