ONE of the country’s only living Victoria Cross recipients will pay his respects to a Stourbridge war hero at a special ceremony this Sunday (April 9).

Dr Johnson Gideon Beharry will join other honoured guests in a memorial service to commemorate the bravery of fellow Victoria Cross recipient, Lance Corporal Thomas Bryan.

Born in Lye in 1882, DL Bryan was awarded the highest military decoration during the First World War where he fought in the 25th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

This Sunday marks 100 years since the start of the Battle of Arras, which saw the Fusiliers advance but their movement halted by a German machine-gun.

Lance Corporal Bryan and his superior Captain Huntley set out to find it, sadly Huntley was killed by a sniper, but Bryan went on alone and was able to disable the gun.

It was for this act of bravery that Bryan was honoured and in June 1917 he was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V in front of a crowd of 40,000 people at St James Park, Newcastle.

100 years later, a special stone will be unveiled in his memory at Mary Stevens Park in the presence of Dr Beharry, one of only a handful of living Victoria Cross recipients in the country.

Stourbridge News:

Dr Beharry was awarded his medal in 2005 for his ‘individual acts of great heroism by which he saved the lives of his comrades’ as a Lance Sergeant in Iraq on May 1 2004. He was driving an armoured vehicle, which was hit by a multiple rocket propelled grenades.

A number of soldiers were injured and Dr Beharry was forced to open his hatch to steer his vehicle and expose himself to enemy fire. He drove the crippled vehicle through the ambush, taking his own crew and leading five other vehicles to safety.

Also attending Sunday’s ceremony will be the Mayor of Dudley, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire Richard Lockett, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Colonel Tom Lloyd and the High Sherriff of the West Midlands Dr Keith Bradshaw.

Councillor Mohammed Hanif, Mayor of Dudley, said: “The bravery and efforts of Lance Corporal Thomas Bryan should never be forgotten. He put his life on the line to protect his comrades with little regard for his own safety.

“Sunday’s commemoration gives us the opportunity to give thanks for all he did and create a lasting memorial in his honour.

“I will also be delighted to welcome Dr Johnson Gideon Beharry to the borough as part of this special event.”

The borough commemoration and the unveiling of the memorial stone, which includes a short service led by the Rev Simon Falshaw, will take place at 2pm at the war memorial in Mary Stevens Park.

Lance Corporal Bryan’s memorial will be the second to be installed across the borough, joining Second Lieutenant Baxter’s commemoration, also located in Mary Steven’s Park.