Victoria Cross Recipient From First World War To Be Honoured

Descendants of one of the last recipients of a First World War Victoria Cross will be travelling from as far afield as Brazil for commemoration ceremonies in Trafford

James Marshall, who died on 4th November 1918, just a week before the Armstice was declared, is having a blue plaque unveiled in his home town of Stretford, as well as a paving stone commemorated at Trafford Town Hall.

Both events, to honour his Victoria Cross - the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry - take place on 4th November, the 100th anniversary of his death.

Lt Col Marshall, who was born in Stretford on 12th June 1887, was attached to the Lancashire Fusiliers. On 4th November he was commanding 16th Battalion at the battle of the Sambre and organised work parties to repair a vital bridge over the Sambre-Oise Canal, despite coming under intense fire.

When the bridge was repaired he attempted to cross at the head of his battalion and was killed. He was aged 31.

Part of the citation for the Victoria Cross in the London Gazette of the 13th February 1919 reads: "For the most conspicuous bravery, determination and leadership in the attack on the Sambre-Oise Canal, northern France, on the 4th November 1918 The passage of the canal was of vital importance, and the gallantry displayed by all ranks was largely due to the inspiring example set by Lt Col Marshall."

He is buried in Ors Communal Cemetery, Nord, France, near to the poet Wilfred Owen who was killed in the same action. A statue inspired by the poetry of Wilfred Owen is to be unveiled in Birkenhead on the same day as Lt Col Marshall’s commemoration.

Cllr Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, said: “It is a great privilege to be able to commemorate a true hero, especially on the centenary of his gallant death.

“A lasting tribute is the least we can do to honour this amazing soldier from our borough.”

The first of the events will take place at Stretford Public Hall at 11.30am where the blue plaque will be unveiled. The second and more formal event will take place at Trafford Town Hall sunken garden at 1.30pm where the paving stone will be unveiled. Paving stones have been provided by the government for all First World War Victoria Cross recipients.

Descendants of Lt Col Marshall will be unveiling the blue plaque and paving stone with one travelling from Brazil.

Both events will be attended by the Mayor of Trafford, Cllr Tom Ross, and are open to members of the public. There will also be representatives from the Lancashire Fusiliers, the Irish Guards and the Belgian Consulate (Manchester).

Lt Col Marshall is one of three Victoria Cross recipients from Trafford borough. Sgt Charles Coverdale, from Old Trafford, and Captain Edward Bradbury from Bowdon have already been honoured with commemorative events in Trafford.

Posted on Thursday 1st November 2018