Paving stone dedicated to Victoria Cross hero Fred

Paving stone dedicated to Victoria Cross hero Fred

Members of Fred’s family, great-great-grandaughter Joanne Luke, grandson Barry Luke, Fred’s nephew Keith Bushnell, Barry’s wife Elizabeth Luke and Samatha Luke

The paving stone

The ceremony

Fred Luke

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

HIS bravery saw him become one of the first men to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War.

Now 100 years on, the story of Hampshire hero Fred Luke was remembered at a special commemoration where a paving stone was dedicated in his memory.

More than 50 people gathered at Lockerley and East Dean Memorial Hall for the ceremony of remembrance, including his relatives who made the emotional trip to honour his courage.

Born in West Tytherley near Romsey, Fred enlisted at Winchester in January 1913 when he was 17-years-old, joining the Royal Field Artillery (RFA).

When war broke out he was serving as a driver with the 37th Battery RFA and took part in the retreat from Mons.

It was during this retreat at the famous action of Le Cateau on August 26, 1914, that Fred’s courage saw him awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

The 18-year-old put his own life at risk when he voluntarily assisted in the retrieval of a captured gun from within 100 yards of the German’s leading line, while under heavy fire from the enemy. 

The action resulted in the death of several of Fred’s fellow soldiers but fortunately he managed to escape the same fate.

The VC was awarded to Fred and two others in recognition of their extraordinary bravery and achievement shown during this action.

His grandson, Barry Luke, 57, who travelled from his home in Somerset with his wife Elizabeth and daughters Joanne and Samantha, were left surprised to discover how vital a role Fred played in the Great War.

Mr Luke said: “He never spoke about the war at all, only once did we see the medal. He just got on and did his allotment and walked the dog. He was just an ordinary guy. I am so proud of him.”

Michael Bowyer, chairman of Lockerley Village Hall Management Committee, added: “We are very happy that a lot of villagers came along to support this special occasion, we are very proud of Fred Luke.”

He went on to serve in the Second World War where he achieved the rank of sergeant and died in 1983, aged 87.

The service was led by the Reverend James Pitkin from St John’s Church in Lockerley, with the stone being unveiled by 18-year-old Sarah Houghton.

The commemorative paving stone is part of a national scheme orchestrated by the Department of Communities and Local Government to provide permanent memorials to VC heroes in their home towns.

It will see all 628 VC recipients of the First World War commemorated in this way, with 469 laid in communities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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