THEIR names are set in stone to remind generations to come of the ultimate sacrifice they gave – their lives, for our freedom.
But in Chipping Norton one hero will soon be forgotten if action is not taken.
George Ravenhill, who was given a Victoria Cross for his brave actions in the Boer War and who died as a result of his injuries in the First World War, is not named on the Chipping Norton war memorial, despite living in the town at the time he was called up for service.
Now the Victoria Cross Trust is campaigning to get his name immortalised in stone.
Gary Stapleton, chairman of the trust, said: “It’s quite a sad story. George Ravenhill was one of only a handful of people to have his Victoria Cross taken off him.
“It seems after the Boer War he was convicted of stealing some lead.
“His children went to live in America we think, and he came to live in Chipping Norton.
“He was living there when he went to fight in the First World War.”
The awards of eight Victoria Cross recipients were forfeited between 1861 and 1908, including Mr Ravenhill’s. But after an impassioned campaign by the sister of Victoria Cross recipient James Collis, who was convicted of bigamy, King George V decided to reinstate all forfeited VCs in 1920, saying “even if a man was hanged for murder, he should be allowed to wear his VC on the scaffold”.
Mr Stapleton said he believed Mr Ravenhill’s VC would have been reinstated by the time he died as a result of his war wounds and that, according to Commonwealth War Graves Commission processes, he should be on the Chipping Norton War Memorial.
He said: “Regardless of whether he had his Victoria Cross or not, this man died as a result of his injuries from the First World War, and he should be on the memorial of the town where he lived.”
Mr Stapleton said he did not know whether the soldier had any family in the area, but that the trust would be interested to hear from them if he did.
He said he had written to the town council to see what efforts could be made to have Mr Ravenhill’s name inscribed on the memorial.
Chipping Norton Town Council, which is partly responsible for the memorial, said it would look into the history of Mr Ravenhill.
Neville Edwards, branch secretary of the Chipping Norton British Legion, said: “We as a branch will be investigating this and if it is the case that he should be on there and is not, we will certainly make efforts to make sure his name is put on the memorial.”
A spokesman for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said Mr Ravenhill, a member of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, was buried at Witton Cemetery, in Birmingham.
An extract from the London Gazette, dated June, 4, 1901, reveals how Mr Ravenhill was awarded his VC.
It reads: “At Colenso, on the 15th December, 1899, Private Ravenhill went several times, under a heavy fire, from his sheltered position as one of the escort to the guns, to assist the officers and drivers who were trying to withdraw the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, when the detachments serving them had all been killed, wounded or driven from them by infantry fire at close range, and helped to limber up one of the guns that were saved.”