Rushden to commemorate town’s Great War hero this weekend

Lt Col Bernard Vann VC
Lt Col Bernard Vann VC

Rushden Town Council and the town’s branch of the Royal British Legion are holding a special parade and service to commemorate the town’s most decorated war hero.

People from Rushden and the surrounding area are invited to the event commemorating the life of Lieutenant Colonel The Reverend Bernard William Vann VC on Saturday (September 29).

The blue plaque in memory of Lt Col Bernard Vann VC

The blue plaque in memory of Lt Col Bernard Vann VC

The Regimental Mascot of The Mercian Regiment (antecedent of the Sherwood Foresters that Bernard Vann joined), is a Swaledale Ram called Private Derby 32nd and he will join the parade from start to finish with his two handlers.

The world renowned Brentwood Imperial Youth Band will lead a commemorative parade from Robinson Road, Rushden, to Rushden’s War Memorial, starting at midday on Saturday to celebrate 100 years to the day since Bernard Vann was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Aa total of seven businesses and organisations including councillors from East Northamptonshire Council and Rushden Town Councillor have donated just over £5,000 to the event, which will include a commemorative stone in memory of Lieutenant Colonel Vann VC and unveiled by both his grandsons.

Major Jake Baker, Royal British Legion Rushden Branch and event organiser, said: “The people of Rushden and the district will not only see Bernard Vann’s name on Rushden’s War Memorial, but now on a specially commissioned paving stone next to it.

“None of this would have been possible without the funding we have received.”

After the short service and unveiling ceremony, the parade will march from Rushden’s War Memorial to Rushden Hall Park’s Walled Garden where people will be encouraged to go to see Private Derby and performances from the Brentwood Imperial Youth Band, The Northampton Male Voice Choir and Performing Arts students of Rushden Academy.

The first performance starts at 1.30pm and the last finishes at about 3.30pm.

Lt Col Vann was the only Church of England cleric to win the Victoria Cross as a combatant.

It was awarded to him posthumously following his brave act at Bellenglise when he was killed by enemy gunfire near Ramicourt when leading his battalion in attack, just weeks before the Armistice.

He is still, today, one of the most highly decorated officers of the British Army.

There is a blue plaque above the front door of 46, High Street South, where he was born.

And a keepsake commemorative brochure is due to be distributed to Rushden’s schools in memory of the town’s most decorated war hero.