History is brought to life as pupils research former war hero scholar

Children from Bowerham Primary School with the new VC stone
Children from Bowerham Primary School with the new VC stone
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Pupils at Bowerham School have been taking part in a living history lesson.

The youngsters were selected to take part in a very special ceremony to honour a former pupil at the Lancaster primary school.

James Leach

James Leach

A memorial stone has been unveiled in honour of First World War hero James Leach.

Second Lieutenant James Leach was serving with the 2nd Manchester Regiment, which had been mobilised to the village of Festubert in Northern France, when his heroism earned him the Victoria Cross (VC).

The award was made for his “conspicuous bravery” after voluntarily launching an attack on a trench that had been earlier captured by a German advance.

Working with one of his men, Sergeant John Hogan, the trench was recaptured and in the process of doing so eight members of the enemy were killed, two wounded and 16 taken prisoner.

James Leach attended Bowerham School for his early education while his father was stationed at Bowerham barracks in the 1900s.

Current pupils had a great time researching the local hero’s connection to their school.

They were impressed to discover that the popular facility was the first school to be opened in the then Lancaster and Morecambe district by the Education Authority after the 1890 education act was passed.

The school had links with Bowerham Barracks and used their fields to play football and various other sports.

This is turn led to the children of Forces families attending the school.

Back then the Bowerham Road school was known as ‘The Mixed Department of the Bowerham Board School.

Pupils from the school were selected to represent the school - and James, at a special ceremony to unveil the memoria tribute to markt he 100th anniversary of the war.

They were joined by a host of local and civic dignitaries.

The Mayor of Lancaster, Coun Jon Barry, said: “Clearly James Leach showed tremendous bravery. It is impossible for us to imagine what things must have been like.”

He added: “My lasting impression of events like these is of the futility of war and of the tremendous suffering that must have been experienced on all sides.”