Appeal to bring home VC medal

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A replica of the Victoria Cross awarded to Leamington-born Henry Tandey - the most highly decorated soldier to return from the bloody battlefields of the First World War - could go on show in the town.

An appeal has been launched to buy the replica VC and put it on display in Leamington Art Gallery and Museum as part of commemorations marking the First World War.

As well as being the holder of a VC, Great Britain’s highest military bravery award, PteTandey was also awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal for his heroism and duties - the VC and the DCM in the space of weeks.

Such was the frequency of his feats of heroism, it was reported that he was told by a senior officer that his bravery could not be adequately rewarded because he had already received all the gallantry medals available.

But it was his reported sparing of the life of a wounded Adolf Hitler during the First World War which has intrigued historians - some say he was not the soldier who showed mercy, while others say he was. It is reported that Hitler was convinced it was Pte Tandey.

The appeal to buy a replica VC has been launched by funeral directors Henry Ison & Sons and donations can be given at its offices in Leam Terrace, Leamington.

And it has also opened a crowd-funding site to reach out to younger people to encourage them to donate - http://igg.me/at/henry-tandey-vc-appeal

Funeral manager James Hewison said: “Each year our team undertakes a number of community activities around Remembrance Sunday.

““With 2014 marking 100 years since the start of the First World War, we wanted to do something that would really commemorate Leamington’s war effort.

“While our campaign will centre on Henry Tandey, our hope is that by creating a lasting local legacy, we will help future generations remember the people from our town that sacrificed so much.”

To produce the replica VC, the Ison team had to seek permission from The Green Howards Regimental Museum in Yorkshire, which holds Henry Tandey’s original medal.

Mr Hewison said: “We are indebted to the museum for giving us its blessing to create a replica so that Leamington can have its own permanent tribute. We now hope that the town will get behind our campaign and help us reach the total needed to commission the replica medal.

“Our hope is that as well as driving donations to purchase the medal by using an online crowd-funding website, we will be reaching out to a younger audience and educating them more about this important aspect of the town’s heritage.”

The appeal has the backing of Cllr John Knight, mayor of Leamington, who said: “Henry Tandey is deservedly recognised as one of the most famous sons of Royal Leamington Spa. It is fitting that there should be a tangible record of his Victoria Cross on display in the town.

“I would urge townspeople, businesses and other organisations to make donations to make this most laudable aim a reality.”

When the replica is produced, the Ison team plan to hold a religious service of dedication before handing the medal over to the town. It is hoped that the replica medal can then be displayed alongside the Freedom of the Leamington Borough scrolls and casket awarded to Henry Tandey in 1919.

Henry Ison and Sons will hold an information and fundraising day at the Royal Priors Shopping Centre on Friday, November 7, from 9am to 5pm.

Contact them on 339444.