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Statue plans for Burton VC war hero

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: February 15, 2013

Lance Corporal W H (bill) Coltman

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PLANS are in the pipeline for a statue of a Burton war hero to be built in the town.

A life-size statue of Victoria Cross winner William Coltman could be built in the town centre as part of the town’s First World War centenary celebrations.

Last month the Mail reported that the Victoria Cross Trust hopes to renovate Mr Coltman’s grave, at St Mark’s Church in Winshill.

On Friday the trust announced it plans to raise £100,000 to build a statue of Mr Coltman, in a ‘prominent’ town location.

Gary Stapleton, chairman of the Victoria Cross Trust, said: “We will be going forward with the plans for the statue.

“We want to get the restoration work on his grave done first and that will act as a launch pad for the statue.

“It definitely will be somewhere prominent in Burton.

“We don’t know what the time frame is for the statue yet – it will depend on how long it takes us to raise the money, choose the design and the sculpture but it would be great to have it done for the 100th anniversary.”

Mr Coltman, who was a stretcher bearer in the North Staffordshire regiment, was one of the most decorated soldiers in the First World War, being awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry, for rescuing wounded comrades while under fire in 1918.

He was also twice being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal.

Mr Stapleton said: “As we get closer to the 100th anniversary more and more people will be looking towards people like William Coltman and they want to know the story behind what he did.

“There will be more children learning about the First World War and it is important they know his story as well.”

Mr Stapleton said the statue could also be a tourist attraction.

He said: “It will be great for people to say there is a statue of William Coltman in Burton and it would be fantastic for it to attract people to the town.

“The entire nation should be proud there will be a statue of this person in Burton.”

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  • Burhan  |  February 25 2013, 10:33AM

    Entirely agree with 'burtontrash'. No-doubt we should remmebers those servicemen who gave their lives for the nation. However, erreting any sort of statue will glorify conflicts and wars and it will give a wrong impression to the future generatinos. Lets not promote war but peace. Why don't just create a 'peace charity' with his name or perhaps name a hosiptal ward on his name.

  • burtontrash  |  February 18 2013, 1:54PM

    Sanctimonious nonsense. From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: 'Coltman was reticent about his achievements and after receiving his Victoria Cross from the King at Buckingham Palace in May 1919 was said to have made a detour on his return home in order to avoid a civic reception in his honour at Burton upon Trent... He had once expressed the hope that future generations would know nothing of war, beyond what they read in books, and that there would come a time when no Victoria Cross could be won.' He would almost certainly have been horrified by the local chickenhawks' plan to put up a statue. Where have these people been the past forty odd years? If they are serious about honouring his memory then they would forget about celebrating the centenary of this, or any other, war. Remember, yes. Learn from past mistakes, yes. But celebrate..?

  • JohnJarman  |  February 16 2013, 4:34PM

    ''...Would it not be better for the huge amount needed to erect this statue to be spent on helping the survivors of conflicts in which our servicemen and women have and are currently serving?'' Asks Compo12. The amount needed for such a memorial to a true national hero and the pride that that it will hopefully instil is very small in comparison to the huge amounts raised by the service charities every year for the purposes alluded to. Therefore the answer to the question must be NO. I would urge the local authority to enact a suitable byelaw in order to protect any monument/statue from the attentions of the disaffected few that infest the town to ensure that any repetition of actions such as the paint spraying of the memorial in the College grounds is severely dealt with under the law.

  • Robbatkin  |  February 16 2013, 10:48AM

    This is brilliant. Just what we need to inject a bit of pride into the people of Burton. I'll look forward to seeing the statue when unveiled.

  • compo12  |  February 15 2013, 9:20PM

    It is good to see that W H Coltman will not be forgotten and that his grave will be renovated, hopefully not at the expense of turning a family grave into a war grave solely in his name. Also he is recognised by a large plaque in Burton's War Memorial gardens and whilst a statue would be there to remind people of what this man did, there are many others who have gone unnoticed but who served their country and fellow men in no small way; they are all remembered in November of every year on Remembrance Sunday by those attending the many services at local War Memorials. Would it not be better for the huge amount needed to erect this statue to be spent on helping the survivors of conlficts in which our servicemen and women have and are currently serving