Published August 8, 2017 at 10:39
A Blackburnian who received the Victoria Cross for his bravery in World War One is to be remembered with a paving stone outside Blackburn Town Hall.
CQMS William Grimbaldeston who was born in 1889 and served with 1st King’s Own Scottish Borderers, was one of only four soldiers from the town to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
A paving stone in his honour will be unveiled at a commemorative event on Wednesday, August 16 as part of a national initiative which sees commemorative paving stones laid at the birth places of Victoria Cross recipients of the Great War.
Family members of Sergeant Grimbaldeston will attend the ceremony along with civic dignitaries. The Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Councillor Colin Rigby, Blackburn MP Kate Hollern, The High Sheriff of Lancashire Mr Robert Webb, Vice Lord Lieutenant Colonel Alan Jolley and Canon Ian Stockton from Blackburn Cathedral will also be in attendance.
Sergeant Grimbaldeston, a mill worker and keen sportsman, was awarded the VC for his heroic achievements on August 16 in 1917 at the infamous battle of Passchendaele.
During the incident for which he was also awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government, he bravely took on what seemed an impossible task of capturing 36 armed German machine gunners that threatened his company’s advance while wounded, and armed only with a rifle and a hand grenade.
The amazing feat took place not long after he had returned to service following recovery from being injured during a previous act of bravery.
It saw him continue to lead his men after having been wounded in the hand and then suffering burns saving another soldier whose clothing had caught fire. As a result he was hospitalised and had to have a finger amputated.
He returned to the UK shortly after following a mustard gas attack and was treated in, military hospital. He was presented to the Queen in a special ceremony during her historic visit to Blackburn in 1955
The event will also be attended by a special guest, Blackburn historian and writer, 92-year-old Raymond Walsh, who has helped to write a book – ‘The Four Blackburn V.C.s’ which features Sergeant Grimbaldeston.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:
This stone is a testament to the outstanding bravery and heroism of Sergeant William Grimbaldeston, whose actions to save his fellow soldiers should never be forgotten.
This is a lasting legacy to William’s bravery and it is wonderful that this reminder is here for all residents and visitors to the borough to see.
We owe a huge debt to William and countless other heroes like him, whose acts of bravery and valour helped to secure victory in The Great War. The Victoria Cross is the most prestigious military award and it is an opportunity to mark the bravery of our very own World War One hero.”
The commemoration service will start at 10.50am on Wednesday, August 16th, outside Blackburn Town Hall.