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Foreign VC combatants honoured

Foreign combatants who won the Victoria Cross fighting for Britain during the First World War will have their bravery honoured to mark the centenary of the conflict.

More than 170 are to be remembered across the globe in an extension of a scheme to lay commemorative paving stones in the home towns of UK-based fighters.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister David Cameron as he flew home from a Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka.

Many of the heroes decorated for extraordinary acts of courage in the face of the enemy were from the island and other Commonwealth countries Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.

Nepalese Gurkhas will also feature among those whose stories are to be preserved.

Downing Street said it would work with each of the national governments involved to find ways with "impact and resonance" to commemorate recipients.

It hopes the choices will involve their stories being accessible to younger generations in the way the stones will seek to do in this country.

Mr Cameron said: "The countries of today's Commonwealth played a vital role alongside our allies during the First World War. And I am committed to ensuring that our centenary commemorations properly recognise the Commonwealth contribution and the sacrifices they made.

"We will also help local communities to tell the tale of their brave men so that younger generations can learn about our shared history and about the extraordinary courage and determination of those who fought to preserve the values that we hold dear.

"A hundred years on from the First World War our armed forces continue to serve alongside those from the Commonwealth - demonstrating enormous courage and sacrifice to uphold the freedoms and values that we cherish. I salute their courage and commitment."

The move is expected to cost around the same as that for the UK paving stones - around 175,000.

One of the stories being told is that of 21-year-old South African private William Faulds who embarked on what others considered a suicide mission to rescue an injured comrade under heavy artillery bombardment.

Private Faulds - who also won the Military Cross - had earlier been involved in a similar quest to bring back his wounded commanding officer as he lay between the British and enemy trenches.

Others are:

Canadian John Chipman Kerr who forced the surrender of 62 enemy soldiers in a daring raid during the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme. He also fought - at the age of 52 - in the Second World War and already has one permanent memorial - a 2,600m peak in the Rocky Mountains named after him.

New Zealander Donald Foresster Brown who showed "utter contempt for danger and coolness under fire" capturing key machine-gun positions before being killed by a German bullet.

Sergeant Brown was one of 2,000 of his countrymen who died on the Somme alone in a conflict which claimed many lives of fighters from across Britain's empire, including more than 70,000 Indians, 60,000 Canadians and Australians and 18,000 Kiwis.


From Belfast Telegraph