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Graves and memorials of Victoria Cross recipients could be restored

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 22, 2014

  • 22/04/14 VC winner plaque pic Plaque of VC winner in the graveyard of St Wystan's Church in Repton.Major General F C Roberts VC

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NEGLECTED memorials to Burton and South Derbyshire war heroes will be refurbished as part of a charity’s campaign.

The Victoria Cross Trust wants to restore the final resting places of Victoria Cross recipients who died as civilians - meaning their plots are not officially maintained and are sometimes left to rot and ruin.

These include a memorial to Frank Roberts at St Wystan’s Church (pictured), in Bretby, and Gresley-born William Beesley, who is buried in Monmouthshire.

The charity was the driving force behind the Mail-backed campaign to restore the grave of Burton war hero William Coltman.

Its chairman Gary Stapleton told the Mail it was hoped work could be completed on the projects by 2018, as long as funds are raised and permission to carry out the work is granted.

This would coincide with Government plans to lay commemorative paving slabs to Victoria Cross recipients in their home towns.

Mr Stapleton said: “Our plan is to make sure every grave is restored to what it should be before the paving slabs are issued.

“That will be by 2018, subject to the permission and funding.”

Once work on memorials in Britain is completed and funding secured for their maintenance, the charity could then repair work on graves overseas.

This could include that of Ticknall-born John Smith, who is buried in Artillery Cemetery in India.

The Victoria Cross Trust, with the help of Mail readers and Burton’s MP Andrew Griffiths raised £3,000 needed to carry out repair work on William Coltman’s grave, whose plot in St Mark’s Church, Winshill, was rededicated in January.

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry British and Commonwealth soldiers can receive.

They are made from cannons captured from Russian forces at Sevastopol during the Crimean War in the 19th century.

There are 544 graves of Victoria Cross recipients in the UK, 200 of which were men who fought in the First World War.

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