DIGNITARIES will pay their respects to a Burton war hero of ‘national significance’ following a project to restore his grave.
Politicians, church leaders, veterans, and community leaders will attend the rededication of Victoria Cross recipient Lance Corporal William Coltman’s grave at St Mark’s Church, Winshill.
A new footplate, kerbstones and memorial inscribed with LCpl Coltman’s status as the most decorated non-commissioned officer in the First World War have been installed on the grave.
The work went ahead after the Victoria Cross Trust raised £3,000 through public donations with the help of the Mail-led Honour Our Heroes campaign.
LCpl Coltman, a pacifist who lived in Winshill, also twice received the Military Medal and Distinguished Conduct Medal while serving as a stretcher bearer in the North Staffordshire Regiment.
Chairman of the trust Gary Stapleton said LCpl Coltman’s decorations made him ‘the most important soldier’ in the war.
He said: “Coltman is a Burton hero. We are pleased the people of the town can visit his final resting place and find it in a state befitting of a man of his status.”
Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, who is a patron of the Victoria Cross Trust, said: “Given William Coltman’s pacifism and beliefs, the bravery he showed in service to his county makes him one of the most important in the war.
“As a result, his grave is of national significance.”
Jon Wheale is an army veteran and member of the Staffordshire Regiment Association who went to school in Winshill with some of LCpl Coltman’s relatives.
He said: “It’s only right and proper that the grave is well maintained.
“Burton is a town with a close association to the military and that’s something I hope will continue.”
Rev Michael Mookerji, of St Mark’s Church, said the service will signify the start of the centenary of the First World War.
He said: “It’s important that we remember these men and women who fought in the war for our freedom.”
The service is open to the public and will commence at 11am, on Sunday, January, 26.