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VC hero’s name not on Lewes War Memorial

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Brooch

The name of a Victoria Cross winner from Lewes has inadvertently been left off the town’s War Memorial, it has emerged.

Second Lieutenant Sidney Woodroffe is one of as many as 20 who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War but is not listed.

Now the Lewes branch of the Royal British Legion has launched a campaign to rectify the omissions.

People are being asked to sign a petition, now widely distributed throughout the town, which will be presented to Lewes Town Council – responsible for the memorial – on August 28.

It says: “We the undersigned call upon Lewes Town Council to give formal recognition to those people from Lewes who served and died in the First World War whose names are not yet on the War Memorial by giving permission for a brass plaque (funded by popular donation) with their names to be fixed to the Lewes War Memorial to commemorate their service and sacrifice.”

The petition has come about following research by former Town Ranger Chis Kemp, who said “the hair stood up on the back of my neck” when he heard Lewes had a VC winner – the ultimate award for bravery.

Ironically, he had recently returned from a battlefield tour in Belgium on the subject of VC recipients.

It included a visit to Hooge, where Sidney Woodroffe was killed in action aged 19.

Mr Kemp, who now works for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, discovered 2nd Lt Woodroffe was one of three brothers all killed by 1916.

He said: “The family moved to Bournemouth. When the War Memorial was put in place in 1922 families had to fill out a form to have their loved ones’ names entered on it. The Woodroffes were no longer living in Lewes, so this is how their names came to be excluded.

“That got me thinking – would there be any more names of the fallen not on the memorial?

“So I simply cross-referenced the rolls of honour from the town’s churches and came up with another 19 names [three of them women].”

Jack Neil, Chairman of the Lewes branch of the RBL, said: “These people died for their country. Their names deserve to be honoured.”

Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe, who has been helping with the petition, said: “We understand there are a lot of reasons why some people slipped through the net locally and are not listed. I believe if someone made the ultimate sacrifice it’s important there’s a proper memorial to them in the town they came from.”

 

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