Lasting legacy for South Tyneside war hero

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A POIGANT tribute has been paid to a heroic South Tyneside soldier today - a century after his bravery in battle won him a Victoria Cross.

A commemorative paving stone was unveiled to homour the remarkable life of Private Henry Robson in the street bearing his name, Robson Close, in South Shields.

South Tyneside Mayor, Coun Fay Cunningham and Coun Ed Malcolm, chair of the borough’s armed forces forum, were among those celebrating Private Robson’s service to his country at the noon service.

Pte Robson was awarded the prestigious Victoria Cross for his heroic rescue bid at Ypres in Belgium, on December 14, 1914.

during an attack on a German position, he left his trench under very heavy fire to rescue a wounded non-commissioned officer.

Pte Robson then made an attempt to get another wounded man to cover while again exposed to severe fire.

He was wounded but persevered until he was shot for a second time and rendered helpless.

Pte Robson was given the freedom of the borough of South Shields in 1915.

He died in Canada in 1964 after serving as sergeant-at-arms at the Ontario parliament in Toronto.

The future war hero was born in Hampden Street, South Shields, in 1894.

He joined the Royal Scots’ Lothian Regiment, the oldest infantry regiment in the British Army, in 1912.

Now a lasting legacy to his efforts in the line of duty has been cemented in the town of his birth.

The event began with a procession to the memorial led by a piper of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, followed by a short service of dedication and remembrance carried out by the Rev Paul Kennedy, of St Michael and All Angels Church. who read out a citation to Pte Robson.

Coun Malcolm performed the stone unveiling, before wreaths were laid by the Mayor and Colonel James Finlay on behalf of Pte Robson’s old regiment.

This will be followed by a sombre playing of Lament The Flowers of the Forest, the Last Post and a perfectly-observed minute’s silence.

Coun Ed Malcolm said: “It is 100 years to the day that Pte Robson carried out the act of bravery that won him the Victoria Cross.

“In the centenary year of the start of World War One, it is important to remember the heroism and sacrifice that he made.

“He went to help others not once, but twice.

“His efforts typify what the human spirit can do in extreme adversity.

Military organisations involved in the ceremony included the Royal Scots Association, the Royal British Legion and the Durham Light Infantry Association.

The Victoria Cross commemorative stone is part of a national scheme which will see every Victoria Cross recipient of the First World War – 628 in total – commemorated with a paving stone. The first such stones were laid in communities around the UK in August.

Two more South Tynesiders awarded the medal during the First World War, Joseph Collin and Thomas Young, will be honoured with paving stones in 2018 to mark the centenary of the actions that earned them their honours.