Southport hero Pte Richard Masters among Merseyside Victoria Cross grave included in restoration project

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Merseyside Victoria Cross graves included in restoration project

The graves of nine First World War heroes from Merseyside are to be included in a project which aims to restore the final resting places of Victoria Cross recipients to their former glory.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles today announced £100,000 towards the restoration of the UK graves in need of repair. Headstones will be cleaned or replaced so that the graves of those who received the highest military award for valour is a truly fitting tribute to their sacrifice.

Nine people from Merseyside received the Victoria Cross between 1914 and 1918. They were:

2Lt GABRIEL COURY The South Lancashire Regiment TOXTETH MERSEYSIDE 08-Aug 1916 St Peter & St Paul Churchyard, Crosby Merseyside
Pte WILLIAM RATCLIFFE The Prince of Wales’s Volunteers (S Lancashire Regt) TOXTETH MERSEYSIDE 14-Jun 1917 Allerton Cemetery, Liverpool Merseyside
Lt RONALD STUART Q Ship HMS Pargust TOXTETH MERSEYSIDE 07-Jun 1917 Charing Cemetery Kent
Maj ERNEST ALEXANDER Royal Field Artillery WOOLTON/ EVERTON MERSEYSIDE 24-Aug 1914 Putney Vale Crematorium (headstone) London
Sgt CYRIL GOURLEY Royal Field Artillery WAVERTREE MERSEYSIDE 30-Nov 1917 Grange Cemetery, West Kirby Merseyside
LSgt ARTHUR EVANS The Lincolnshire Regiment SEAFORTH MERSEYSIDE 02-Sep 1918 Park Cemetery, Lytham-St-Annes Lancashire
Sgt JOHN  O’NEILL The Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) AIRDRIE NORTH LANARKSHIRE 14 and 20 Oct 1918 Holy Trinity Churchyard, Hoylake Merseyside
Cpl JOHN DAVIES The Prince of Wales’s Volunteers (S Lancashire Regt) TRANMERE MERSEYSIDE 24-Mar 1918 St Helens Borough Cemetery Merseyside
Pte RICHARD MASTERS Army Service Corps SOUTHPORT MERSEYSIDE 09-Apr 1918 St Cuthbert’s Churchyard, Southport Merseyside

The new funding will give a significant boost to funds already being raised by the Victoria Cross Trust – a charitable organisation that works to ensure the graves of every Victoria Cross recipient are maintained.

While some graves only require minor work, others have fallen into disrepair – headstones have become illegible; stones have crumbled away leaving them unstable; and some are in danger of collapse. As a result many people are unaware that a Victoria Cross recipient is buried in their community.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

“An entire generation of men fought for Britain’s freedom in the First World War and all fought valiantly. But for hundreds of those men their bravery was of such an exceptional nature they were bestowed with the highest military award, the Victoria Cross.

“As these men were honoured then for their extreme bravery on the battlefields, they should be honoured still. That is why I am privileged to offer more than £100,000 towards this project to ensure that their final resting places are venerated memorials where communities can pay their respects and learn about their local heroes.

“This will make sure the graves of our Victoria Cross heroes become places to reflect on their selfless service to the nation. Alongside the creation of commemorative paving stones we will create a fitting tribute to honour these heroes.”

The government is leading on commemorations to mark the centenary of the First World War.

Last year the Communities Secretary announced a national campaign of commemorative paving stones to be laid in the place of birth of First World War Victoria Cross winners across the country so that communities will have a permanent memorial of their local heroes.

The design of the stone was decided by a national competition and the winning entry was unveiled by the Secretary of State and the first living recipient of the Victoria Cross, Lance Sergeant Johnson

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