Belfast Telegraph

Carrick memorial to honour VC hero of Great War

By Adrian Rutherford

A permanent memorial to a Northern Ireland-born Victoria Cross hero will be installed in his hometown next month to honour his remarkable bravery during the First World War.

James Bell Crichton, from Carrickfergus in Co Antrim, received the most prestigious military accolade for his incredible courage during the conflict, including facing a barrage of enemy machine gun fire and snipers to remove explosives from a vital bridge, then swimming across a river while under attack to deliver key messages.

Now it has been confirmed that the VC commemorative stone to Mr Crichton will be unveiled on Friday, September 28, in Carrickfergus's War Memorial Gardens.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Lindsay Millar said: "The installation of a permanent memorial paving stone in memory and honour of James Crichton is a fitting tribute to this inspirational man and will further ensure his story is remembered and celebrated for generations to come."

The council also agreed to mark the bravery of Lt Col Richard West VC, who served with the North Irish Horse and whose VC stone is due to be unveiled in Cheltenham in early September.

Col West's parents were from Ulster and the North Irish Horse were keen to mark his bravery in Carrickfergus.

The council has agreed to have a plaque recognising the North Irish Horse and Col West installed at the War Memorial gardens.

It is anticipated that both the stone and the plaque will be dedicated at the September 28 event.

Mr Crichton was born in Carrickfergus before the family moved to Scotland, where Mr Crichton later enlisted with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders at Edinburgh Castle and served in the Boer War.

He later emigrated to New Zealand and in August 1914 enlisted in the 1st Auckland Regiment, as a corporal in the New Zealand Army Service Corps. During the Great War he served in Gallipoli and in France as a quartermaster-sergeant.

In April 1918, while he was serving as a warrant officer with the 1st NZ Field Bakery, he voluntarily relinquished his rank and transferred as a private to the Auckland Infantry Regiment.

James Crichton won his Victoria Cross for bravery and devotion to duty near Crevecoeur, France, on September 30, 1918.

Belfast Telegraph

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