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Hero of yesteryear honoured by Victoria Cross winner

Published on:

01 December 2017

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A Victoria Cross recipient visited Enfield today (Friday 1 December) as Enfield Council paid tribute to the bravery of a World War One Hero.

• Commemorative paving slabs marking the bravery of Victoria Cross winner from Enfield unveiled
• Slabs will be located in parks near the birthplace of Captain Allastair McReady-Diarmid
• Victoria Cross is the highest award members of the armed forces can receive for gallantry in the face of the enemy

A Victoria Cross recipient visited Enfield today (Friday 1 December) as Enfield Council paid tribute to the bravery of a World War One hero.

Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry, joined a service and unveiling ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of Captain Allastair McReady-Diarmid of Southgate receiving the Victoria Cross for his extraordinary heroism.

As part of a national campaign to mark the centenary of World War One, special paving slabs have been presented to the home boroughs of Victoria Cross recipients so their exploits can be honoured.

Capt McReady-Diarmid’s paving slab is in Grove Road open space near where he was born. It was officially unveiled with a special service attended by family members and representatives from the military, including Lance Sergeant Beharry and Enfield Council.

Enfield Council Leader, Cllr Doug Taylor, said: “The bravery and sacrifice shown by Enfield’s Victoria Cross winners is humbling and it is right and proper that the communities in which these brave men were raised should celebrate their bravery.

“Allastair McReady-Diarmid was a hero, whose deeds will live long in the memory and inspire today’s generation for many years to come.

“We owe it to his memory to work collectively as a borough and a nation towards building strong communities and a lasting peace across the world where everyone can live together in harmony so that nations no longer have to send their young men and women to fight wars on foreign fields.”

Capt McReady-Diarmid received his Victoria Cross for his part in action on 30 November 1917. The citation for the award read:

‘On 30th November/1 December 1917 at the Moeuvres Sector, France, when the enemy penetrated into our position, and the situation was extremely critical, Captain McReady-Diarmid led his company through a heavy barrage and immediately engaged the enemy and drove them back at least 300 yards, causing numerous casualties and taking 27 prisoners.

‘The following day the enemy again attacked and drove back another company which had lost all its officers. The captain again called for volunteers, and leading the attack, again drove them back.

‘It was entirely due to his marvellous throwing of bombs that the ground was regained, but he was eventually killed by a bomb.”

His widow Hilda received his Victoria Cross from King George V on 20 April 1918 at Buckingham Palace.

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest award of the United Kingdom honours system and is awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy to members of the British armed forces.

The origins of the medal come from the Crimean War in 1854 where up until this point there was no official standardised system for recognition of gallantry within the British armed forces.

Queen Victoria instructed the War Office to create a medal that would that would be open to all regardless of birth or class.

The VC was officially introduced in January 1856 and since then the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients. 628 VC’s were awarded during World War One.

The appearance of the Victoria Cross is unmistakable in the form of a 41mm x 36mm cross pattée bearing the crown of Saint Edward surmounted by a lion, and the inscription FOR
VALOUR.

This was originally to have been FOR THE BRAVE, until it was changed on the recommendation of Queen Victoria, as it implied that not all in battle were brave.

The cross is suspended by a ring from a “V” to a bar ornamented with laurel leaves, through which the ribbon passes.

The reverse of the suspension bar is engraved with the recipient’s name, rank, number and unit.

On the reverse of the medal is a circular panel on which the date of the act for which it was awarded is engraved in the centre.