10 Apr 2017
A commemorative paving stone for an Oakley war hero was unveiled at a special centenary ceremony organised by Aylesbury Vale District Council today (Tuesday 10 April). The engraved stone was unveiled by Chairman of AVDC, Jenny Bloom and a wreath placed on the stone by Vice Lord-Lieutenant Alexander Boswell in honour of Company Sergeant Major Edward Brooks VC, who was awarded the Victoria Cross one hundred years ago this month.
AVDC Chairman, Jenny Bloom welcomed Edward Brooks’ grandson, Keith Brooks and community and military representatives to the ceremony. She said: “AVDC is honoured to receive this commemorative paving stone in memory of Company Sergeant Major Brooks VC and to recognise the significance of his historic actions for the Oakley community. It is thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of soldiers such as Edward that we enjoy the freedom we do today.”
CSM Edward Brooks VC was awarded the Victoria Cross for his action at Fayet, near Saint-Quentin, France on 28 April 1917 where he single-handedly killed two German gunners and captured their machine gun, preventing many casualties. The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry a British or Commonwealth serviceman can receive and CSM Edward Brooks VC is the only Victoria Cross recipient within the district.
The stone will be available for public viewing at the AVDC office, The Gateway until Thursday 20 April, before being presented to the Oakley community in a ceremony at St Mary’s Church, Oakley from 10am on Friday 28 April. There is also an associated free two-day exhibition in Oakley Village Hall (28 & 29 April) that celebrates VC recipients, Oakley families and displays First World War era memorabilia.
Chairman of Oakley Parish Council, John Mole said: “I am delighted that a lasting tribute to this remarkable man will be laid in his birthplace. Everyone is welcome to the ceremony at St Mary's Church and we hope for many visitors to the exhibition on the Friday and Saturday.”
The government-led initiative aims to provide a lasting legacy of Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War, with the laying of a paving stone in the birth place of each of the 454 men. The design will also incorporate an electronic reader which people will be able to scan using their smartphones to discover more information about their local Victoria Cross recipient.