School honour for Victoria Cross hero

Opening of Harper Building Ash Hill Academy. L/r Geoff Cooper (87) seved with Cpl Harper, Peter Harper (84) brother, Glenn Blackett (47) Head of 6th Form and Gordon Harper (68).  Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Opening of Harper Building Ash Hill Academy. L/r Geoff Cooper (87) seved with Cpl Harper, Peter Harper (84) brother, Glenn Blackett (47) Head of 6th Form and Gordon Harper (68). Picture: Malcolm Billingham
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The only Doncaster-born holder of the Victoria Cross has been honoured with the opening of a new building in his memory.

Corporal John William Harper died in battle during World War Two and was posthumously awarded Britain’s highest military honour for his bravery.

Now his name will live on at a school in his home village of Hatfield, following the opening of a new sixth form building by members of his family and former comrades.

The Harper Building at Ash Hill Academy pays tribute to Cpl Harper, who died in September 1944 as he fought to liberate the Belgian town of Merksplas from Nazi occupation.

He made several daring runs into enemy territory to help seize a key position but was eventually shot.

School spokesman Glenn Blackett said: “We thought it was fitting that the name of Cpl Harper should live on at the school.”

The soldier was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour and buried at the nearby Leopoldsburg war cemetery.

Relative Gordon Harper has ensured the story lives on by arranging memorials both in Belgium and Hatfield.

Gordon said: “John’s story is one that should be preserved and told to future generations.”