Lakes honour for Rushden war hero killed in France

The sign in memory of Bernard Vann VC
The sign in memory of Bernard Vann VC

A view point at Rushden Lakes has been named after one of the most decorated officers of the British Army.

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire – working with the Rushden branch of the Royal British Legion and Rushden Town Council – has recognised Rushden’s First World War hero Lt Col the Rev Bernard William Vann VC by naming a view point at Rushden Lakes after him.

Bernard William Vann
VC

Bernard William Vann VC

The view point is on the nature trail’s one-mile path around Skew Bridge Lake looking south towards Rushden.

Lt Col Vann, who was born on 9 July, 1887, in Rushden, was killed in action on October 3, 1918.

He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross on September 29, 1918.

The VC is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth Forces.

In memory of Rushden's Bernard Vann VC

In memory of Rushden's Bernard Vann VC

The citation published in the London Gazette on December 14, 1918, said: “For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and fine leadership during the attack at Bellenglise and Lehaucourt on September 29, 1918.

“He led his battalion with great skill across the Canal du Nord through a very thick fog and under heavy fire from field and machine guns.

“On reaching the high ground above Bellenglise the whole attack was held up by fire of all descriptions from the front and right flank.

“Realising that everything depended on the advance going forward with the barrage, Colonel Vann rushed up to the firing line and with the greatest gallantry led the line forward.

In memory of Bernard Vann VC

In memory of Bernard Vann VC

“By his prompt action and absolute contempt for danger the whole situation was changed, the men were encouraged and the line swept forward.

“Later, he rushed a field-gun single-handed and knocked out three of the detachment.

“Lt Col Vann, who had on all occasions set the highest example of valour, was killed near Ramicourt on October 3, 1918, when leading his battalion in attack.”

Lt Col Vann is still one of the most highly decorated officers of the British Army, having also been awarded the French Croix de Guerre avec palme and the Military Cross & Bar (the Bar signifies a second Military Cross being won).

The unveiling of the sign in the road named after Bernard Vann VC in Rushden

The unveiling of the sign in the road named after Bernard Vann VC in Rushden

On September 29 next year, there will be a pavestone unveiling ceremony and service at Rushden’s War Memorial opposite St Mary’s Church in Newton Road to mark 100 years to the day of the posthumous award.

This will be followed by a performance by the Imperial Youth Band at Rushden Hall Park’s Walled Garden.