15:23 Saturday 14 December 2013

Grandchildren of war hero pay special tribute

Written byHELEN KREFT

THE grandchildren of a Burton war hero have been invited to pay special tribute to their grandfather with a tree-planting ceremony.

Yesterday marked the start of Winshill Parish Council’s plan to transform a one-acre site off Mill Hill Lane into a blossoming woodland, dedicated to William Coltman.

Mr Coltman’s grandchildren Barbara Rankin, Linda McMillan, David Coltman and John Coltman joined members of the parish council to plant the first trees in the ‘peace wood’, which will include beach, oak and amber.

Coltman, who was born in Rangemore and later lived in Winshill, received the Victoria Cross, the highest military award for gallantry, when he rescued wounded soldiers while under fire in the First World War.

He also received the Military Medal and the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice, which makes him the most highly decorated non-commissioned officer who fought in the conflict.

Winshill parish councillor Dennis Fletcher previously told the Mail the peace wood, which East Staffordshire Borough Council has also supported, would cost about £25,000.

He said: “I think it’s a brilliant idea. It will be a wonderful asset to Winshill and a wonderful commemoration to all the people who died from here.

“It was the parish council’s idea to have the peace wood because William Coltman spent most of his life in Winshill.

“With the centenary anniversary coming up we wanted to do something to commemorate him and everyone else from Winshill who gave their lives.

“William Coltman was a man of peace. He did not handle a rifle but he was still the most decorated non-commissioned officer in the war.”

The announcement came after the Mail reported that the first stage had been completed to restore Coltman’s grave at St Mark’s Church, Winshill.

Councillor Fletcher said the peace wood would also include a path and information boards to outline where soldiers from Winshill fought in the war, as well as seating and a bed of poppies.

There could also be 94 trees planted to commemorate the 94 men from Winshill who are thought to have died in the conflict.

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