Our VC hero Rex gets official snub

15:37 16 August 2013

Painting by Ralph Gillies-Cole depicting the aftermath of Flight Sub-Lieutenant Rex Warneford

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.

0 comments

Other News Stories

Katie Burke (front centre) samples her ‘Katie’s Strawberry Shortcake’ flavour gelato with the other four finalists and (back left to right): Owner 	of Antonio’s, Tony Badcott; Emma Chandler and Andy Williams from 		Exmouth RNLI.

A seven-year-old Exmouth schoolgirl has won a competition to create a flavour of ice cream to be sold at Antonio’s in The Strand.

Read more
10:22
NHS logo

It is all systems go for the transformation of Budleigh Salterton Hospital into a health and wellbeing hub, after NHS bosses gave the final go-ahead.

Read more
10:15
Kevin Tyrrell from Budleigh Salterton had his ambitions of running in the general election quashed as the name of his Ukulele Independence Party was rejected by the Electoral Commision. Ref exb 1583-13-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

A budding politician has seen his bid to bring a four-stringed revolution to British politics thwarted - after election chiefs rejected the proposed name of his party.

Read more
Saturday, March 28, 2015
St John's Court team manger Trevor Moir, Senior Mental Health Practicioner Steve Hammond and Dr Teg Freer are pictured seated on the new bench that was presented by the Mens' Shed this week. Ref exe 0590-12-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

A men’s social group has once again come to the rescue by hand-crafting much-needed seating for a vital local service.

Read more
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Hugo Swire stock picture

Hugo Swire’s election rivals have called on him to apologise after he was secretly filmed joking about welfare claimants at a Tory fundraiser.

Read more
Friday, March 27, 2015
Rolle College, Exmouth.  Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 9254-18-12SH To order your copy of this photograph visit www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Community volunteers have sealed a deal to reopen part of the mothballed Rolle campus for the Exmouth Festival.

Read more
Friday, March 27, 2015
A la Ronde Assistant House Steward James Weckmueller winds a Grandfather clock dating back to around 1820 which was made by David Whitelaw of Edinburgh. Every Sunday at noon during March visitors to the National Trust property can watch all the clocks in the house being wound and set. Ref exe 0537-12-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Visitors to A la Ronde this month have been watching the clocks at the National Trust house being wound and set.

Read more
Thursday, March 26, 2015
A rugby themed easter egg trail is taking place along the Exe Estuary

A special Easter egg hunt inspired by the Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off along the Exe Estuary Trail on Saturday, March 28.

Read more
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Ocean Blue. Ref exe 1212-33-14SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Leisure East Devon (LED) has announced it has agreed a 25-year lease to manage the Ocean Blue complex on Exmouth seafront.

Read more
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Topsham Devon Air Ambulance Trust is open for business again after a recent shop refurbishment. Cutting the ribbon is Tom Robertson, Chrissie Peel, Nigel Hare, Martin Bell and Sarah Woolfenden. Ref ext 1296-13-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

One of Topsham’s two Devon Air Ambulance shops held its grand re-opening on Saturday, March 21.

Read more

Local Weather

Rain

Rain

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 8°C

Most Read News

Advertise in the Paper
Submit a Story
Subscriptions Order
Competitions
Photo Orders
Family notices
iwitness24
Google Plus
Facebook
Twitter
Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Exmouth Journal e-edition today E-edition



Exmouth's trusted business finder