A commemorative stone and plaque was unveiled today, September 3 at the Brighton War Memorial to honour the memory of Captain Theodore Wright who was awarded the Victoria Cross in World War One.
Relatives of Captain Wright were among those attending the ceremony and laid flowers in his memory. Others taking part included the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Councillor Brian Fitch, the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field and a representative from the Royal Engineers.
The Victoria Cross commemorative stone is part of a national scheme that will see every VC recipient of WW1 commemorated with a paving stone.
The allocation of commemorative stones has been decided nationally, with Brighton & Hove City Council organising the local unveiling ceremony.
Cpt Wright’s VC, which was awarded after his death, was among the earliest awarded in WW1. Two more local men who were awarded the VC during WW1, Ernest Beal and Edward Mannock, will be honoured with commemorative stones in 2018, 100 years after the actions that lead to the awards.
Cpt Wright was born in Brighton in May 1883 and was already serving in the 57th Field Company of the Royal Engineers at the outbreak of WW1 in August 1914.
He was immediately sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force and arrived at Mons on August 22 1914. The following day he was detailed to supervise the destruction of eight bridges over the canal and it was while attempting to connect the leads under one bridge that he earned his Victoria Cross. Despite being wounded by shrapnel early in the operation, Cpt Wright continued to set charges under the bridges and, working with Lance-Corporal Charles Jarvis, managed to destroy Jemappes Bridge.
The following month, at Vailly on September 14, Cpt Wright assisted the passage of the 5th Cavalry Brigade over a pontoon bridge and was killed assisting wounded men to shelter. An officer of the Scots Greys later wrote in a letter: “At the end of the bridge was an Engineer officer repairing bits blown off and putting down straw as cool as a cucumber – the finest thing I ever saw. The poor fellow was killed just after my troops got across. No man earned a better Victoria Cross.”
The mayor of Brighton & Hove, Cllr Brian Fitch, said: “As we mark the centenary of World War One it is fitting that the bravery of Captain Wright and others who earned the Victoria Cross is commemorated in their hometowns and cities. The memorial stone will provide a lasting tribute to Captain Wright at Brighton War Memorial and we are delighted that members of his family will be at the service to see it unveiled.”
As part of the commemoration Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company is naming a bus after Capt Wright which will be at the ceremony. Ernest Beal already has a bus name after him and one will be named after Edward Mannock to mark the 100th anniversary of his VC.
A range of exhibitions and events are also going on in Brighton & Hove to commemorate the centenary of WW1, including War Stories: Voices from the First World War a major exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery which runs until March 1 2015 .
The exhibition brings to life the wartime experiences of 13 individuals whose intensely personal memories and extraordinary stories reveal the impact of war. A special War Stories Open Day is being held at the museum on September 13 from 10.30am to 4pm, with a range of activities and events going on throughout the day. See Notes to editors for more details of these and other events.
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