30 Jun 2007

Dorchester Town Council Rejects War Heroes

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Prince Charles proposed a number of historic names with local associations for the names of streets in a newly developed portion of Poundbury, Dorset.

The Prince’s suggestions included the names of a number of soldiers and sailors from Dorset, who served in the Dorset Regiment, or were otherwise connected to Dorset, and were awarded the Victoria Cross;

(descriptions from London Times)

Private Samuel Vickery, of the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment who was awarded the Victoria Cross for the rescue of a comrade under enemy fire in India in 1897.

Seaman Joseph Kellaway, a Dorset-born Royal Navy boatswain, won the Victoria Cross in the Crimea in 1855 after taking on 50 Russians almost single-handed. He landed in a small boat on the shores of the Sea of Azov with orders to burn some haystacks and a farm building. Within minutes Kellaway and four seamen from HMS Wrangler were surrounded by soldiers. Despite a furious onslaught of musket fire Kellaway, 29, went to the aid of two wounded comrades and held off the Russians until his powder ran dry. Kellaway, was presented with the newly instituted Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at a ceremony in Hyde Park.

Captain Lionel Queripel, of the 10th Parachute Battalion, was wounded in the face and arms by withering German fire during nine hours of fierce fighting at Arnhem in 1944. He was awarded a posthumous VC for fighting on with hand grenades and a revolver to cover the retreat of his men. He was not seen alive again.

Captain Gerald O’Sullivan won the VC for leading an attack on a Turkish trench during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. He was killed two months later.

a Dorset survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade;

Trooper Thomas Warr, who died in Dorchester in 1916 aged 87, was one of the last survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade when the British cavalry was cut to pieces by Russian guns during the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. Old Tom died penniless in Dorchester in 1916 and was soon forgotten but his grave was refurbished before a special ceremony by his old regiment last year.

a troopship, saved from fire by the Dorset Regiment;

Sarah Sands was a troop ship which caught fire in the Indian Ocean in 1857. Queen Victoria honoured the Dorsets who helped to fight the blaze.

and the WWII battle of Kohima and the Peninsular Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars in which the Dorset Regiment served.

But the Dorchester town planning committee rejected the proposed street names, contending that naming streets for war heroes, acts of bravery, or victories might offend someone and would set a dangerous precedent.

Dorset Echo

Chairman of the planning committee, Fiona Kent-Ledger said:

From the start of the Poundbury development the Duchy had a policy of using names from Duchy farms and estates, such as Highgrove House and Hascombe Court, and that’s a nice connection – we like to keep a theme.

“It’s quite a sensitive subject as there are people in Dorchester who have lost loved ones in past and recent conflict.

“We can’t continue to name streets after people, once one street is named the floodgates are open.” …

“It’s not for political reasons or the fact we’re celebrating war, it’s just trying to be practical about where names are used because once they’re there, they’re there forever.”

Max Davidson
thought the council’s decision “smacked of feeblemindedness.”

And veterans thought the decision was an insult.

Mr Julian, who fought in Korea with the Dorsets – now amalgamated into the new West Country regiment The Rifles – said he was furious with the decision.

He said: “This is an insult to the memory of those soldiers who fought and died. It’s a disgrace to the county.

“I bet those people who took this decision have never fought in a campaign. …

He said only three former members of the Dorset Regiment who fought in the Second World War are still alive – and that the rejection was an insult to them as well.

He said names forwarded to the town council for consideration included Kohima, the Second World War battle that saw the Dorsets in the forefront to get the Japanese out of India. The regiment was awarded battle honours for its part in this action.

Mr. Julian found the council’s explanation for its decision unpersuasive.

He said: “Tell that to the young soldiers whose bones still lie out at Kohima. I’m incensed about it.”


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