HERO REMEMBERED AFTER MORE THAN 50 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH
A MEMORIAL to a Victoria Cross hero of the First World War has been unveiled at Blythe Bridge 100 years after the battle which saw him decorated for gallantry.
Sergeant Ernest Egerton was one of only two Great War soldiers in Staffordshire to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
His family were joined by civic leaders, villagers and schoolchildren for a service of commemoration and a parade on Wednesday, September 20.
An Act of Remembrance and church service were followed by a procession to the unveiling of the memorial outside the Blythe Centre.
Levison Wood Senior and members of the Blythe Bridge Forsbrook and Dilhorne Historical Society worked alongside Moorlands branches of the Royal British Legion, Forsbrook Parish Council, the Blythe Centre, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Staffordshire County Council to have the memorial to Sgt Egerton erected and commemorated.
Wreaths were laid by civic guests, including vice Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire Graham Stow CBE DL and leader of SMDC, Sybil Ralphs MBE.
It was on September 20 1917 that Sgt Egerton was fighting with the 16th Battalion Sherwood Foresters at Bulgar Wood, Belgium during the Battle of Passchendaele.
He single-handedly stormed a machine gun nest which had been raining fire on British troops. He shot three German gunners and forced 29 soldiers to surrender.
His actions saw him presented with the Victoria Cross – Britain’s highest award for gallantry. His award and other medals were on display during the special event dedicated to his memory.
Born in Longton in 1897, Sgt Egerton moved to Uttoxeter Road, Blythe Bridge after the Great War, remaining there for more than 40 years until his death in 1966.
A plaque has been erected there in his memory.
Mr Wood Snr said: “I thought it was magical. Everybody came together to remember this remarkable man.
“It started as a small thing, but grew in the planning until we had an event with 90 guests including Sgt Egerton’s family.
“The hardest thing was finding a site for the memorial and actually getting it installed. The council’s have all been very supportive and we have also had help from Huws Gray and Travis Perkins with the works.
“It was a terrific community effort – the ladies from the embroidery group made the unveiling cloth, Helen Bickerton and the volunteers at the library have been incredibly supportive and there are members of the historical society who have been deeply involved. Children from William Amory Primary School and Blythe Bridge High School also came out to support the event.
“Villagers have just collectively come together to put on a tremendous tribute to the heroism of a local man.”
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