Leamington pays tribute to soldier’s heroic deeds

A dignified and sombre service of prayers and readings saw Leamington officially take possession of a replica of the Victoria Cross awarded to Henry Tandey.

Hilary Lloyd, Cadet Lewis Draper, Cadet Nick Miller, Bryan Davis, James Hewison, Councillor John Knight, Father Christopher Wilson.
Hilary Lloyd, Cadet Lewis Draper, Cadet Nick Miller, Bryan Davis, James Hewison, Councillor John Knight, Father Christopher Wilson.

The service at All Saints’ church on St George’s Day was attended by civic dignitaries, representatives of the Royal British Legion and army cadet members.

Royal Leamington Spa Army Cadets Force, led by Colour Sergeant Stuart Graham, and the Kineton Army Cadets Force formed a guard of honour as Cadet Lewis Draper escorted the medal to Fr Christopher Wilson, who led the service at the Anglican church.

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And a member of the Royal British Legion read the citation for Private Tandey, which was part of the VC awarded to him in 1918 for his bravery during the First World War.

While Cadet Danielle Davies from North Leamington School read an account of Private Tandey’s bravery that was written by a Private H Lister in 1918.

The mayor of Leamington, Cllr John Knight, formally took possession of the replica on behalf of the town, which will go on display at Leamington Art Gallery and Museum.

Cllr Knight said: “I thought it was a very dignified and appropriate service.”

As well as being the holder of a VC – the UK’s highest military award – Private Tandey was also awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and the Military Medal for his heroism and service.

The VC and the DCM were awarded for heroic actions that took place within weeks.

Cllr Knight spoke about Private Tandey’s legacy and about how he was pleased that the town now had a lasting tribute to one of its most famous sons, allowing his bravery and the bravery of all those who fought in the war to be remembered by future generations.

He added: “I spoke of it being a fitting tribute to one of the most distinguished sons of Leamington. Having the replica VC on show will be a testament to the bravery of Henry Tandey and those who fought in the First World War.”

The medal was officially handed over to the mayor by Cadet Nick Miller from Warwick School on behalf of Henry Ison & Sons Funeral Directors and the people of Leamington.

The funeral directors launched the appeal to buy the replica VC in October, and area manager James Hewison gave tribute to Private Tandey by singing England by C. H. H. Parry.

He said: “The service was a fitting memorial for Leamington’s most famous son and we were delighted that we were able to mark Henry Tandey’s achievements on St George’s Day.

“We were fortunate that so many army cadets were able to take part in the service, connecting Leamington’s military history with its military future.

“We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the appeal and those who attended the service.”

At the end of the service The Last Post was played before Fr Wilson gave a final blessing.

The medal will be loaned by the town council to the art gallery to be included in a commemorative display about Private Tandey’s life and achievements.

Adolf Hitler was convinced that his life was spared by Private Tandey when an injured and confused Hitler strayed into his line of fire after a battle that halted a German offensive.