Anger as council are forced to delay VC celebrations for four years

Cotswold Journal: Major General Dudley Johnson from Bourton Major General Dudley Johnson from Bourton

AN event to commemorate a war hero from Bourton who was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) during the First World War has been thrown into doubt.

Councils across the country have been offered the chance to commemorate local recipients of the Victoria Cross by laying paving stones, paid for by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DLCG).

The stones are one of many projects to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War on August 4, 1914.

Later this year, Bourton was set to honour Major General Dudley Johnson, who was born in the village on February 13, 1884.

He was awarded the honour for conspicuous bravery and leadership after his part in the forcing of the Sambre Canal on November 4, 1918 and is the only person in the Cotswold district to hold one.

But plans have stalled for Bourton’s commemoration, which was set for August, after councillors were told regulations mean they will have to wait until 2018 instead – as that will be the 100th anniversary of when Major General Dudley’s VC was awarded.

Vice Chairman Tim- Faulkner said: “In the last month or so they’ve now notified us it’s now going to be, or advised to be, 100 years from the event the VC was awarded,” he said. “It’s becoming a bit of a farce.”

Cllr Faulkner said they had spent a long time tracking down family members of Major Johnson for the event, which will see him honoured on the village war memorial.

But without knowing when they will get the paving stone, he said they cannot now arrange anything.

“One of the families for ours comes from Australia,” he added.

“If they had bought and paid for a flight to come to Bourton for that day they would be really upset and out of pocket.

“We’ve chased up the family from all around the world.

How can you drag it out over four or five years?”

When contacted by The Journal, the DLCG referred us to the website notice published last October.

It said: “The paving stones will be laid in corresponding dates from 2014 to 2018 – for example if a Victoria Cross was awarded in August 1915 – the stone will be laid in August 2015, so it is always 100 years on from when it was won.”

However the DLCG said if councils wanted to hold a commemoration early they could but just needed to get in touch.

John Cork, chairman of the Bourton branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “It’s a disappointment but then again it might be better to do it in 2018 as then it’s a celebration as opposed to a commemoration.”

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