Memorial stone honouring Shotton Victoria Cross hero to be unveiled on Remembrance Sunday
A memorial stone honouring a Shotton war hero awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War is set to be unveiled on Remembrance Day.
This Sunday marks 100 years since the Armistice was signed in November 1918, bringing an end to the First World War.
The specially commissioned stone commemorating LCpI Henry ‘Harry’ Weale will be unveiled during the annual Service of Remembrance at the Connah’s Quay and Shotton war memorial.
Special paving stones have been laid over the past 4 years in the hometowns of all those in the United Kingdom who were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for bravery under enemy fire.
In September a stone was laid in the Coronation Gardens, Buckley to commemorate 2nd Lt Frederick Birks, VC, MM, who was born in the town on 16 August 1894.
He received the Victoria Cross for his actions on 20 September 1917, the day before he was killed by a shell as he tried to save his men.
Harry Weale was born on October 2nd, 1897 in Brook Road in Shotton, the Connah’s Quay and Shotton war memorial is situated just yards away.
After leaving school at 14 Harry went to work at John Summers Steelworks.
He joined the army at the age 15 but was sent back to Shotton as soldiers had to be 16 and over to serve on the battlefront.
As soon as he became 16 he enlisted with the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
On 26th August 1918 at Bazentin-le-Grand, France, when the advance of the adjacent battalion was held up by enemy machine-guns, Lance-Corporal Weale was ordered to deal with hostile posts.
An entry in the London Gazette states:
No. 5046 L./Cpl. Henry Weale, R.W. Fus. (Shotton, Ches.). For most conspicuous bravery and initiative in attack.
The adjacent battalion having been held up by enemy machine guns, L. /Cpl. Weale was ordered to deal with the hostile posts.
When his Lewis gun failed him, on his own initiative he rushed the nearest post and killed the crew, then went for the others, the crews of which fled on his approach, this gallant N.C.O. pursuing them.
His very dashing deed cleared the way for the advance, inspired his comrades, and resulted in the capture of. all the machine guns.
According to an entry on vconline.org.uk:
‘Harry returned home to Shotton where he stepped off the train to a hero’s welcome from crowds who had gathered from miles around.’
He was presented with an illuminated address by the headteacher of his former primary school, St Ethelwold’s.
It read: “The parish is proud to know that one of its own boys has won, by deed of valour, the highest distinction which a British soldier can win.”
He received his VC from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 1st March 1919.’
Extracts from the vconline.org.uk entry go on to say:
‘Bosses at John Summers were so impressed with Harry’s bravery, they presented him with a gold hunter pocket watch. In June 1919
In June 1919 Harry married Susie Harrison of Rhyl, where the couple moved to.
However, it was then things began to change for Harry. Conditions were dreadfully hard for men returning from war. Britain was meant to be a land fit for heroes, but when many returned, many like Harry Weale found themselves on the scrapheap.
Harry went from a hero, invited to receptions at Buckingham Palace, to a poorly-paid council worker.
Susie’s mother was in poor health and Harry was forced to sell his John Summers gold watch.
Perhaps one of the most touching tales of Harry’s life was that his former employer John Summers tracked down and bought the gold watch he was forced to part with. The firm returned the timepiece to his nephew in the 60s, and it remains with the family to this day.
Harry was forced to sell his John Summers gold watch. Harry and Susie had three sons and a daughter.
Perhaps one of the most touching tales of Harry’s life was that his former employer John Summers tracked down and bought the gold watch he was forced to part with. The firm returned the timepiece to his nephew in the 60s, and it remains with the family to this day.’
Harry died on 13th January 1959 in Rhyl at the age of 64, and he was buried with full military honours at Rhyl Cemetery.
The TA centre in Queensferry is now named the Henry Weale VC TA Centre.
His Victoria Cross is held by the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle.
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