Ceremony to remember East Ham Victoria Cross hero
- Credit: Archant
A century ago, the town of Kut, in modern-day Iraq, was under siege from the Ottoman army.
Around 23,000 British and allied soldiers were killed or wounded during the attempted relief effort.
Among them was Second Lieutenant Edgar Kinghorn Myles, a 21-year-old from East Ham who won the Victoria Cross for his bravery.
Born in 1894, he joined the 8th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment at the age of 20.
In April 1916 he fought with the Worcestershire Regiment in Mesopotamia, where his actions saw him receive the top military honour.
According to his citation, Lt Myles “went out alone on several occasions in front of our advance trenches and under heavy rifle fire and at great personal risk, assisted wounded men lying in the open.”
On one occasion, he was hit while carrying a wounded man, but was able to get them both to safety.
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He survived the war and died in 1977, aged 82.
To mark 100 years since Lt Myles was awarded the Victoria Cross, a commemorative stone was unveiled next to the Central Park Cenotaph in East Ham this morning.
Among those attending were members of the Royal Briish Legion, pupils from across the borough and Ian Newson, a relative of Lt Myles.
He joined the deputy mayor of Newham, Cllr Lester Hudson, in unveiling the stone, which is one of five to be installed between 2014 and 2018 as part of Newham Council’s commitment to honour the borough’s medal winners from the First World War.
Cllr Hudson said: “It is so important we remember people who have died serving their country.
“We should not forget that while they did extraordinary things, they were ordinary people.”
Lance Sgt Johnson Beharry, one of only two serving soldiers to be awarded the VC, was also in attendance.
He said: “I am here representing the modern military and supporting the family as well.
“I want to show that the heroic efforts of Second Lieutenant Myles are still remembered and were not in vain.”
A wreath was also laid in memory of Lt Myles in Worcester, where his regiment was based, to mark the occasion.
Communities minister, Baroness Williams of Trafford, said: “The stone laid in honour of Edgar Myles provides a lasting legacy to his bravery and will enable East Ham residents to gain a greater understanding of how a local hero played a key role in the history of the First World War.”
“He carried out astonishing acts of valour in service of his country and we all owe a huge debt to those brave heroes like Edgar Myles who served and lived through the First World War.”
“They are just as inspirational now as they were a century ago.”
Lt Myles’ stone is the second to be laid at the cenotaph.
Midshipman George Drewry was honoured in April last year, while a ceremony to remember Jack Cornwell will take place on Sunday, June 5.