WWI Centenary: New ways to remember local heroes

WAR HERO Sjt John William Ormsby. (2710/43)
WAR HERO Sjt John William Ormsby. (2710/43)

A local hero will be given the recognition he deserves as part of a government scheme to restore the graves of WWI Victoria Cross winners.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has pledged £100,000 to help restore graves throughout Yorkshire belonging to WWI Victoria Cross heroes, including the grave of Serjeant John William Ormsby.

Serjeant Ormsby was born and raised in Dewsbury, and received the cross for gallantry. He is buried in Dewsbury Cemetery.

A member of the 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Infantry, he was given the award for capturing an important position for the British army during a battle in Fayet, France.

Acting as company Serjeant Major, he braved heavy machine gun fire and drove snipers out of a village.

He received the Victoria Cross at a ceremony in 1917.

Mr Pickles said: “An entire generation of men fought for Britain’s freedom in the First World War and all fought valiantly.

“But for hundreds of those men their bravery was of such an exceptional nature they were bestowed with the highest military award, the Victoria Cross.

“This [funding] will make sure the graves of our Victoria Cross heroes become places to reflect on their selfless service to the nation.”

Batley Carr’s Victoria Cross winner, Pte Horace Waller, was killed in battle and is buried in France.

Although his gravestone will not be restored as part of the scheme, his role in WWI will be recognised through another government initiative.

Both Pte Waller and Sjt Ormsby will have commemorative paving stones unveiled in their home towns as part of centenary events to take place over the next four years.

It is though their stones are likely to be placed in 2017.