Plans are underway for a series of events to honour the life of a Swinton soldier who was awarded the military’s highest honour for an amazing act of bravery during the First World War.
Lance corporal Thomas Jackson was known as the ‘Coldstream Guard Hero of the Canal Du Nord’ and later won the Victoria Cross for his heroic actions in France on the morning of September 27 1918.
Now, a century later community leaders in Swinton are hoping to arrange a series of commemorative events to coincide with the 100th year anniversary of his act of valour in September next year.
Swinton councillor and heritage enthusiast Ken Wyatt said: “Lance corporal Jackson’s act of bravery will be remembered forever and we are very proud to have a VC hero from Swinton.
“It is important that we remember the sacrifice made by people like lance corporal Jackson and millions of others.
“As we are right in the middle of centenary commemorations of the First World War we noticed that next year marks 100 years since his act of bravery so we thought this would be a good time to honour him.”
A citation, published in the London Gazette at the time, read: “For most conspicuous bravery and self sacrifice in the attack across the Canal du Nord, near Graincourt.
“Lance corporal Jackson was the first to volunteer to follow captain C.H. Frisby across the Canal du Nord in his rush against an enemy machine-gun post.
“With two comrades he followed his officer across the canal, rushed the post, capturing two machine-guns, and so enabled the companies to advance.
“Later in the morning, lance corporal Jackson was the first to jump into a German trench which his platoon had to clear, and after doing further excellent work was unfortunately killed.
“Throughout the day this NCO showed the greatest valour and devotion to duty, and set an inspiring example to all.”
His grave is close to where he died at Sanders Keep Military Cemetery in Graincourt-les-Havrincourt.
Lance corporal Jackson’s VC medal is displayed at The Coldstream Guards Regimental Headquarters at Wellington Barracks in London.
A portrait of him hangs in Swinton Library.
Coun Wyatt said: “Before joining the war effort he worked as an engine cleaner at Mexborough loco depot.
“His portrait has been on public view in Swinton for decades so his face is well-known to people in the town.
“By hosting these commemoration events it helps to put some character to the image.”
A working group has been set up to co-ordinate the project and they had their first meeting at Swinton Library on Tuesday.
Coun Wyatt added: “I would like to see a parade through the town centre and then have an act of remembrance at the war memorial near St Margaret’s Church.
“If we can do it then I would like to have a week of events, including a musical performance in a venue locally the night before the parade.
“The band of the Coldstream Guards and Thurnscoe Male Voice Choir have already said they would like to be involved and we would also liaise with the Royal British Legion on the project.”
He added that they are also going to approach schools with a view to launching an educational project alongside the commemorations, such as a poetry competition.
The group has also registered for the Government’s ‘Commemorative VC Paving Stone’ project to site a paving stone bearing lance corporal Jackson’s name in the town centre.