Heroic soldiers to be honoured at memorial ceremony

Published Thursday 19 April 2018 at 10:27

Two brave Blackburn World War One heroes will be remembered in a special ceremony in April.

Lieutenant Percy Dean and Second-Lieutenant John Schofield were both awarded the Victoria Cross for their deeds in battle during the great war, and will be commemorated with paving stones outside Blackburn Town Hall.

The ceremony will take place from 10.50am on April 23rd at Blackburn Town Hall.

Lieutenant Percy Dean was born in Buncer Lane, Blackburn, in 1877, and was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

He was awarded the VC for rescuing over 100 seamen during a raid on a German-occupied harbour in Belgium in March 1918. His boat came under heavy fire for an hour but He managed to save many of his men.

His Admiral said of his bravery: “I was much struck with the gallant bearing of Lieutenant Dean and the survivors of his crew.”

Following the war, he returned to Blackburn and became MP for the town in December 1918 until 1922 and then became a prominent businessman in the town. He died in March 1939, aged 62.

Second-Lieutenant Schofield, who served in the Lancashire Fusiliers, is the only local man to be awarded the VC after his death, as he lost his life in an enemy attack in Givenchy, France, on April 9th 1918 aged 26.

He was shot down while leading a small group of soldiers but was praised for his actions as he managed to capture 123 German officers and saved the eight men in his party.

He was described by his Commanding Officer as a ‘magnificent officer, absolutely fearless and a great leader.”

Born in 1892 in Wycoller Road in Revidge, Blackburn, Second-Lieutenant Schofield was originally turned down by the army twice when he attempted to enlist due to problems with his eyesight. He persisted, and was eventually accepted in a clerical role before being posted abroad.

Paving stones in the men’s honour will be unveiled at a commemorative event on Monday, April 23rd 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 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 Anthony Attard OBE DL, Lord Lieutenant Lord Shuttleworth KG KCVO and Canon Ian Stockton from Blackburn Cathedral will also be in attendance.

Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:

These were two exceptionally brave men who were a huge credit to our borough, and whose names and memories we should never forget.

By laying these commemorative plaques, we are ensuring that the truly heroic deeds of Percy Dean and John Schofield remain with us forever. We should never forget such selfless bravery by our men and women during two world wars and other wars since. Without them we almost certainly wouldn’t be here today.”

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