First World War centenary will honour S Yorks heroes

Sheffield's Arnold Loosemore, a hero of the First World War
Sheffield's Arnold Loosemore, a hero of the First World War
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Valiant heroes from South Yorkshire will be at the heart of First World War centenary celebrations when they get underway next year.

Sheffield and Barnsley will receive commemorative paving stones to honour the men who were awarded the Victoria Cross for showing tremendous courage during the conflict, which took place from 1914 to 1918.

The government will hand the memorials over to councils where winners were born as part of its four-year programme of events to commemorate what is known as the Great War.

Cash will also be made available to local communities to allow them to spruce up existing war memorials.

In Sheffield, the paving stone will mark the memory of John C Raynes, William B Allen and Arnold Loosemore - who showed valour ‘in the face of the enemy’.

Sergeant Major Raynes was born in 1887, son of the landlord of The Sheaf View in Lower Heeley.

He signed up for the army at the age of 17 and was the first person from Sheffield to be awarded the VC for his actions during the war, after rescuing a fellow soldier from no man’s land.

Arnold was honoured for single-handedly killing more than 20 German soldiers to save his platoon.

He was a 21-year-old Private in August 1917, when his platoon had been held up by heavy machine gun fire during an attack on a strongly-held German position at the south of Langemarck, near Ypres, Belgium.

The Brinsworth-born lad survived the war but was badly injured and died in 1924.

Sheffield University graduate William was born at 14 Botanical Road in 1892. He was a Captain with the Royal Army Medical Corps but attached to the 246th West Riding Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He received his award for his actions in France in September 1916.

Barnsley’s VC winner Albert Shepherd, of Royston, has also been named in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s honour roll.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “It is our duty to remember the British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives fighting in the Great War and we are determined to make sure their bravery for king and country is not forgotten.

“Laying paving stones to mark these Victoria Cross heroes will ensure that there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen who fought for our country and the competition is a great way for people from all corners of the UK to get involved.

“This will connect communities to their shared history, help residents understand how their area played its part in the Great War, and ensure memories of that sacrifice for British freedom and liberty are kept alive for generations to come.”

The centenary begins on August 4 next year. Heritage Lottery has launched £6million fund to help people across the UK commemorate the First World War.