Britain honours 175 foreign-born heroes

Bart Armstrong











Bart Armstrong, Contributor ~

For years people across Britain complained about a burning issue that made celebrating their Victoria Cross recipients difficult.

In many cases the statue or monument honouring their brave lads was not located locally, but rather in some far off city or land. So they let government know this was not good enough.

Parliament agreed something should be done at the local level, but what was that something?

Contests were held and a plan was developed that would see paving stones made that were inscribed with the hero’s name, regiment and date of the First World War deed that earned the Victoria Cross. They would be provided to local councils across the country, with public meetings held and decisions made about where they should be mounted.

But the plan only called for stones dedicated to recipients born in Britain. What about those buried in Britain, but born elsewhere? Government then included these, made the paving stones, and circulated with instructions that local governments unveil them on the very day, 100 years after the deed in which the battle took place.

But another flaw was soon realized. What about all the heroes neither born nor buried there, but as equally deserving of the same honour? What about heroes from around the world such as Canada’s Billy Bishop and Billy Mitchell, George Pearkes and Rowland Bourke.

The missing “few” soon morphed into at least 175 men.

Research showed that men from 11 different countries now needed this same recognition. So a Bronze plaque was designed and sent to each country listing their heroes.

Then on June 21 of this year, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth office unveiled the next part of the overall memorial to these Great War recipients. It is a searchable digital archive that lists most of the foreign born recipients by country. Clicking on links takes you to a landing page bio, image and citation for each recipient. There is also a description of the overall program at the site and a short video clip.

I encourage readers to visit this site. It is at

More on this and many others stories can be read at

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