Hundreds of people turned out to commemorate Rushden’s most decorated war hero.
Saturday’s event was held to honour Rushden’s Great War hero, Lieutenant Colonel The Reverend Bernard Vann VC, MC & Bar and Croix de Guerre avec Palme in the presence of his two grandsons and 11 other descendants.
They were joined by dignitaries, members of the Mercian Regiment and the people of Rushden for the special parade and service organised by Rushden’s Royal British Legion (RBL) and Rushden Town Council.
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.
Major Jake Baker, Royal British Legion Rushden Branch and event organiser, said: “The Bernard Vann VC memorial day was a great way to commemorate a remarkable soldier, who 100 years to the day carried out a most courageous act in the face of the enemy.
“Rushden Town Council and RBL Rushden branch joint teamwork has resulted in a great success, for the good and benefit of the Vann family, the Mercian Regiment and the people of Rushden.
“We will remember them.”
Hundreds of people gathered round the town’s war memorial to watch the parade, led by the world renowned Brentwood Imperial Youth Band.
Private Derby 32nd, a Swaledale ram who is the regimental mascot of the Mercian Regiment, took part alongside regular and reservist members of the Armed Forces, veterans and members of Rushden’s RBL, as well as a small representation from the sea, army and air cadets and the town’s schools.
Following a short service and unveiling of a specially commissioned pavestone, the parade then marched to the walled garden at Hall Park where there were performances by the Brentwood Imperial Youth Band, Northampton Male Voice Choir and the BTEC performing arts students from Rushden Academy.
Rushden Museum enjoyed a large number of visitors on Saturday who were able to see Lt Col Vann’s medal group and some of his artefacts brought especially for the day by the Vann family.
Lt Col Vann 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 following last weekend’s memorial event.