Local heroes honoured with Victoria Cross memorials
First World War heroes from Basingstoke and Deane who received the Victoria Cross were honoured with commemorative paving stones as part of centenary commemoration of the Great War.
The memorials are part of a national project organised by the Department for Communities and Local Government to give councils across the country special paving stones for the areas where the Victoria Cross recipients were born. These were laid in the 100th anniversary year of the Victoria Cross hero’s death.
Captain John Aiden Liddell
In July 2015, residents joined the then Basingstoke and Deane Mayor Cllr Anne Court and The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Nigel Atkinson LL for the unveiling of the first of the borough’s memorial stone in commemoration of Captain John Aiden Liddell in Sherfield on Loddon.
The specially commissioned stone was presented to Sherfield on Loddon Parish Council in recognition of where the Liddell family originally made their home.
At the outbreak of WW1, Aiden Liddell joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and served in France where he was awarded the Military Cross. In 1915 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corp and served as a pilot with Seven Squadron at St Omer, France, flying RE5 aircraft.
It was here on 31 July 1915 that while flying on a reconnaissance mission that Captain Liddell received serious injuries from an enemy aircraft attack which resulted in his death on 31 August 1915.
Captain Liddell was awarded the Victoria Cross in recognition of safely landing his aircraft on friendly territory and also saving the life of his observer gunner, despite his injuries and the aircraft damage.
Lance Corporal James Welch VC
On Saturday 29 April 2017, Lance Corporal James Welch VC was honoured with a memorial stone in Stratfield Saye, the village in which he was born in 1889.
The stone for the First World War hero was unveiled at a special ceremony by the then Basingstoke and Deane Mayor, Cllr Jane Frankum and dignitaries from across the borough and beyond paid their respects.
The date marked exactly 100 years since the act of heroism for which Lance Corporal Welch was awarded the Victoria Cross.
During the Battle of Arras, on April 29, 1917, Welch entered a German trench and killed a German soldier after a hand-to-hand struggle, before chasing four others across the land and capturing them single-handedly.
He then manned a machine gun for five hours before being wounded, even going into the open several times to collect ammunition and spare parts.
After the war he moved to Sheffield and worked for a box factory until he retired and moved to Bournemouth with his wife Daisy, who he married in 1915.