A Lancashire war hero who could be left out of centenary commemorations because he was born outside the UK has found an ally in his former school.
Maurice Dease attended Stonyhurst College for five years and headteacher Andrew Johnson has stepped in to ensure the old boy is remembered.
He has written to communities secretary Eric Pickles to push for Maurice to be included in plans to provide a commemmorative paving stone for every Victoria Cross winner from the First World War.
Lieutenant Dease was born in Ireland and so is not included in the plans.
Mr Johnson said: “It’s a source of great pride that seven of our former pupils have been awarded the Victoria Cross. Every one of them is a hero and an inspiration to our students.
“That one of them should not be commemorated next year, on the anniversary of his death, simply because he was born in Ireland, is totally unacceptable.”
Mr Johnson said that the school would consider laying its own paving stone for Lt Dease, with his family’s permission, if he was unable to persuade the authorities to provide one.
Lt Dease, a member of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, came to England when he was eight, attending Stonyhurst from 1903 to 1907.
He was wounded three times on August 23, 1914 at the Battle of Mons as his unit defended the bridge at Nimy, before being killed in action. His bravery was rewarded when he became the first person in the First World War to be given a post-humous Victoria Cross.
Mr Johnson said that portraits of all seven former pupils who received VCs were on display at Stonyhurst. In addition the platoons of the school’s cadet force were named after them.
He said: “Young people need to know this country’s history and commemorating the bravery of Lt Dease, who once sat in the same classrooms as they did, would be a wonderful way to make the war relevant to them. I hope the government will change its mind.
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