Monday, May 12, 2014
Exmouth will receive an official memorial stone to honour World War One VC flying ace Rex Warneford Whitehall chiefs have confirmed.
But so will two other towns.
Last year, the Journal forced a Government U-turn to have Rex’s memorial immortalised in Exmouth in an ‘honour plaque’.
The Government is placing memorials of British World War One VC heroes in their birthplaces to mark the centenary of the conflict.
But because Rex was born in India, the Government said he would not be honoured – until the Journal helped change ministers’ minds.
Rex was the first to shoot down a zeppelin and when he was on leave, in between fighting the Germans, he came back to the only home he knew – Morton Road in Exmouth to live with his mother, half-brother and step-brother.
Following the Journal’s successful campaign a newspaper in Stratford-Upon-Avon jumped on the band-wagon, and revealed an unofficial plaque at his old school.
This led to a third claim, from Highworth in Wiltshire, his family’s ancestral home.
Now in an unprecedented decision they have decided to split the award three ways, and send a memorial stone to each town.
A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: “I can confirm that East Devon District Council will be receiving a paving stone for Rex Warneford…
“Rex Warneford’s stone will be delivered in due course.”
Town clerk Colin Poole: “It’s great news that Eric Pickles has decided to provide Exmouth with a stone to honour Rex Warneford.
“One minute we thought we were going to get two stones one for Rex and one of Richard Sandford, and the next, because other communities laid claim to them, it looked as though we were going to get neither.
“But (MP Hugo Swire) Hugo had a word in the right ear – I think the Government recognised a good idea when they see one!” Campaigner Lionel Howell said: “Regardless of what other towns say, when Rex died Exmouth was his home; it was where his family lived, where he stayed when he was on leave and where he came back to.”