First World War commemorative plaque delay is a worry for Bourton-on-the-Water councillors

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Victoria Cross recipient Mayor General Dudley Johnson, who was born in Bourton Victoria Cross recipient Mayor General Dudley Johnson, who was born in Bourton

COUNCILLORS in Bourton-on-the-Water are concerned that their First World War commemoration events will not be able to go ahead as it is not clear when the commemorative plaques will arrive.

Cllr Tim Faulkner said he thought is was an “absolute joke” that there were no secure dates for the plaques, which will be commemorating Victoria Cross recipients, to arrive.

“All towns and villages are planning their events and people are booking flights and train tickets to come here for the commemorations.

“But it might not happen. It’s going to drift on for four years,” said Cllr Faulkner.

Bourton-on-the-Water is thought to be the only village in the Cotswolds with a Victoria Cross recipient, Major General Dudley Johnson. There are only three Cross recipients in the whole of Gloucestershire. Bourton villagers are in the middle of preparing a range of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War this August.

Although the Victoria Cross Society has arranged for the village to receive a plaque in recognition of Major Johnson, it has now been discovered that it will not arrive until 2018.

A spokesman from the Department of Communities and Local Government said the plaques would be sent out to mark 100 years after each Victoria Cross recipient was awarded their medal.

“For Bourton-on-the-Water, the plaque will arrive in 2018 because Major Johnson was awarded the Cross in 1918,” said spokesman Oliver Whitney-Coates.

“This year, in 2014, the plaques will be sent to the villages who had Cross recipients in 1914.”

Speaking at the launch of the plaques scheme, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “These paving stones will ensure that there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen soldiers across the country and will enable local communities to connect with this important piece of their shared history.”

Major Johnson, of the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, was awarded the VC for his part in the forcing of the Sambre Canal on November 4, 1918, where he showed “a fine example of great valour, coolness and intrepidity”.

He died in December 1975 in Hampshire.

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