Our VC hero Rex gets official snub

PUBLISHED: 15:37 16 August 2013 | UPDATED: 15:37 16 August 2013

Painting by Ralph Gillies-Cole depicting the aftermath of Flight Sub-Lieutenant Rex Warneford's attack on German airship LZ 37

Painting by Ralph Gillies-Cole depicting the aftermath of Flight Sub-Lieutenant Rex Warneford's attack on German airship LZ 37

Archant

outrage broke out this week over the banning of an Exmouth fighter-ace from a list of World War One Victoria Cross heroes who are being immortalised in stone.

The mayor, historians, military campaigners and the Fleet Air Arm have all railed against a government decision to exclude Sub-Lieutenant Reginald ‘Rex’ Warneford from a commemorative stone marking the start of the conflict.

Rex, who lived in Morton Road, was just 23 when he was awarded the Victoria Cross for outstanding valour, writes David Beasley.

In 1915, the dashing Rex single-handedly took on the dreaded zeppelin airship that was terrorising Britain – and won. He “buzzed” the zeppelin, firing his pistol at the crew before flying above it and dropping his payload.

Next year, to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, special paving slabs will be laid in the birthplaces of VC heroes.

Unfortunately, Exmouth’s commemorative slab will bear only the name of its other VC winner, Lieutenant Richard Sandford, and not Rex Warneford.

Government chiefs say only those born in Britain are eligible, and, because Rex was born in India and moved to Exmouth when he was small, his name will not be included.

This is the second time Rex has been ‘forgotten’.

The daring exploits of the town’s two VC heroes were first erased when a seafront plaque was melted down for the World War Two effort and all the council records were lost.

It was only after a campaign by the Journal in 1999 that a parade was organised to remember the pair - and a plaque in their honour erected in pride of place on the outside of the town hall.

Lionel Howell, who organised that parade, said: “It’s disgusting to even think about leaving Rex out.

“He fought for his country; it shouldn’t matter where he was born.

“If they are going to leave Rex out, they should scrub the whole thing.”

Mayor John Humphreys said that Rex made the decision to call Exmouth his home. “It’s perverse that some bureaucrat has made a decision to exclude him from being recognised in his home town,” he said.

Historian Arthur Cook said: “The newspapers in Exmouth at the time of the war saw Warneford as a hero and the whole town was immensely proud of him.”

Barbara Gilbert, archivist for the Fleet Air Arm Museum where Rex’s VC is held, said: “It is very saddening to learn of official discrimination against those born overseas. This means that no town in the UK can claim Rex Warneford as their own.”

She said that eastern England had ‘lived in fear’ of the zeppelin raids. “Overnight, Warneford became a national hero and gave us hope,” she said. “Killed in a crash only two weeks later, his death led to national mourning.

“Ninety-nine years on, it is fitting that we should remember him.”

● Read the full exploits of our VC heroes - see pages eight and nine.

Other News Stories

Debbie Barton raised nearly £600 for All Saints Pre-school which says goodbye to five youngsters

Read more
Yesterday, 16:00

The books have been given to the students at primary schools in Exmouth and the surrounding areas by Rotary Club of Exmouth and District.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:25

Rainfall and thunderstorms are expected to hit North Somerset this evening (Saturday), the MetOffice has warned.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:00

Details have been announced about this year’s Exmouth Kite Festival, organised by the Rotary Club of Exmouth and District, which takes place at the Imperial Rec’ Ground on Saturday, August 5, and Sunday, August 6.

Read more
Yesterday, 10:43

Ambulance, police and fire services were called to a car accident late last night (Friday).

Read more
Yesterday, 06:30

Isla, aged 10, has spoken of her excitement at receiving the gold Booktrack award from Budleigh’s deputy mayor Tom Wright at Budleigh Library.

Read more
Fri, 13:59

Officers are investigating after a ‘number’ of tools were taken from a building in Sanctuary Lane, Woodbury.

Read more
Fri, 11:42

Details of activities taking place at a two-day Love4Exmouth event in Manor Gardens, Exmouth, next month have been announced.

Read more
Thu, 13:24

Exmouth Journal reader Kim Angell has taken this photo of the beavers living in the River Otter, near Otterton

Read more
Thu, 12:49

Researchers from Exeter University are carrying out studies on the Colaton Raleigh Common site which was ravaged by fire in April.

Read more

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 15°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Advertise in the Paper
Submit a Story
Subscriptions Order
Competitions
Photo Orders
Family notices
iwitness24
Google Plus
Facebook
Twitter
Reader Travel


Read Online

Image
Read the Exmouth Journal e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Local business directory

Exmouth's trusted business finder

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists


Find planning applications