Tributes to recipients of Victoria Cross unveiled

Carla Lockhart MLA with Lurgan and Brownlow Women's Section representatives, Mrs Tracey Gilliland, and Mrs Louise Lyness
Carla Lockhart MLA with Lurgan and Brownlow Women's Section representatives, Mrs Tracey Gilliland, and Mrs Louise Lyness

Two commemorative stones have been unveiled to honour the bravery of two local soldiers.

The stones have been laid in order to remember William McFadzean and Geoffrey Cather, who each received the Victoria Cross for their services during the First World War.

One stone was laid in Lurgan to pay tribute to William McFadzean, while the second - remembering the efforts of Geoffrey Cather - was unveiled in Portadown.

The commemoration took place as part of a UK Government campaign to provide a lasting legacy of local heroes within communities, and to enable residents to gain a greater understanding of how their area fitted into the First World War story.

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart attended the unveiling, and spoke of the privilege that it was to attend such an occasion.

“It is a great honour to attend this event for one of Lurgan’s own sons,” said Mrs Lockhart.

“Private William McFadzean was a rifleman in the Royal Irish Rifles, who went over the top along with thousands of British and Irish soldiers on 1 July 1916.

“He saved the lives of many colleagues when he threw himself onto a box of hand grenades which had fallen with the pins out. Realising the potential for a large loss of life, he sacrificed himself.”

Councillor Lockhart continued:

“I am delighted that his family have attended and, whilst it is poignant, it is also a source of great pride that one of their family members was so brave in death as to be awarded the highest and most prestigious gallantry medal in the British Army.”

The Victoria Cross Paving Stone which recalls the bravery of William McFadzean was specially engraved and reads as follows:

‘Lurgan remembers the service of William Frederick McFadzean VC and all those from our town who took part in the great war.’

The official stone for Geoffrey Cather was laid in his birth place in Streatham, London, on July 4 - with a replica stone laid in Portadown, where his mother was from.

A total of 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded during the First World War - eight of which were given to individuals from Northern Ireland.

Councillors from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council took part in the ceremony in each of the towns.

See pages 16 and 24 for coverage of Somme commemoration events