Memorial will honour South Ribble's bravest soldier and Victoria Cross hero Corporal John McNamara

A memorial honouring South Ribble's bravest soldier will be set in stone in his home town.

Friday, 24th August 2018, 4:56 pm
Updated Friday, 24th August 2018, 6:00 pm
Memorial will honour South Ribble's bravest soldier and Victoria Cross hero Corporal John McNamara

A plaque will be installed as the centrepiece of Bamber Bridge’s community garden, celebrating the life of Victoria Cross hero Corporal John McNamara.

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Biography of Corporal John McNamara - the bravest of the brave

The memorial is part of a national campaign to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

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Stella Holmes

Each soldier from across the country who was awarded the top military honour has been remembered with a new plaque in their home town.

Cpl McNamara’s granddaughter, Stella Holmes, 76, from Leyland, said: “My grandfather died before I was born and my mum was only nine years old at the time. Still, ‘Grandad McNamara’ remains a big hero to all the family.

“We’re very, very proud of him. We’ve all got the cuttings; we’ve all been to the war grave in Ypres, Belgium; and we’ve been learning the story of how we came to win the Victoria Cross.

“We’re all so proud of him as he’s the only person from South Ribble to receive this huge honour. He’s one of the borough’s greatest historical icons.

“It will be a special day when the new plaque is unveiled in Bamber Bridge and I’m sure there’ll be a lot of support from people locally.”

The York stone plaque will be set in Mid Wales stone and stood on a metal plinth. It will contain Cpl McNamara’s name, rank, his regiment, and the date of action for which he was awarded the VC.

The garden, at the junction of Withy Grove Road and Station Road, will soon be called McNamara Gardens in his honour.

Members of the McNamara family are due to join crowds there for a special ceremony on Sunday, September 2 at 2pm - almost exactly a century since his heroic act on September 3, 1918.

On that day he was out in the trenches, rescuing wounded comrades and escorting them to safety – despite intense enemy fire.

It was this ‘bravery, initiative and devotion to duty’ that earned him the Victoria Cross, awarded after his death.

This week, a new exhibition opened at the South Ribble Museum and Exhibition Centre in Leyland, commemorating the lives of more than 600 local men who lost their lives in the conflict.

Charles O’Donnell, originator of the South Ribble in the Great War website, has selected the stories of 10 of those men as illustrative of the whole; drawn from engagements throughout the war.

Cpl McNamara’s is one of the 10 portraits and the museum has been fortunate in obtaining a number of items from his archive, which is held by the Surrey Regimental Museum.

Donations to South Ribble Museum and Exhibition Centre have also been used to buy exact replicas of his medals – and these are now on display at the museum on Church Road in Leyland.

Dr David Hunt, curator of South Ribble Museum and Exhibition Centre, said: “John McNamara’s actions were of unparalleled bravery. Under intense enemy fire, he showed amazing courage combined with thought for others.

“That is why, today, we remember the heroics and sacrifice of Cpl McNamara and his comrades from South Ribble and Mid-Lancashire.”