Sheffield man's mission to finally give First World War hero the burial he deserves

Steven Nicholls with some of his military memorabilia
Steven Nicholls with some of his military memorabilia
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A military enthusiast from Sheffield is campaigning to finally give one of the First World War's most decorated fighter pilots the burial he deserves.

Mick Mannock's skill and bravery in the skies earned him numerous medals, including the Victoria Cross, which was awarded after he plunged to his death in 1918.

VC hero Mick Mannock

VC hero Mick Mannock

He is believed to be buried at a war cemetery in France in a grave inscribed with the words 'A British Airman of The First World War', but this has never been formally recognised as his final resting place.

Steven Nicholls, from Shiregreen, is determined to get the remains exhumed and identified so the war hero can be given a proper burial ceremony.

The 36-year-old engineer has launched a petition to correct what he feels is a historic injustice in time for the centenary of the airman's death next year.

"He's always been a bit of a personal hero of mine. He was called the trembling ace because he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder but he still went up and did his thing, becoming the highest scoring ace," said Steven.

Mick Mannock was one of the most highly decorated First World War fighter pilots

Mick Mannock was one of the most highly decorated First World War fighter pilots

"After 100 years it's about time someone made an effort to get this grave identified as his and give him the proper named burial ceremony he deserves."

Edward 'Mick' Mannock joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and was officially credited with 61 'victories', in which planes or observation balloons were shot down - one of the highest tallies of any pilot.

He went down in flames behind enemy lines in July 1918 and, although his remains were never formally identified, a BBC documentary in 2009 suggested he is the unknown airman buried at Laventie Cemetery.

It is a theory Steven strongly believes and he has written to various military organisations, celebrities and political leaders, including Lord Ashdown who he says owns Mannock's VC medal, asking for their support to identify the remains.

But his entreaties have fallen on deaf ears, so he has launched a petition on the parliamentary website.

The online petition, which requires 10,000 signatures to receive a government response and 100,000 to be considered for debate in parliament, went live last Wednesday (March 29) and garnered just over 150 backers in the first week.

You can sign the petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/191594.

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