Perhaps I am missing something but I am still trying to get to grips with the idea of a replica Victoria Cross as an appropriate and credible testament to Henry Tandey as suggested on the front page of last week’s Courier. Replica VCs are available by the score on the internet for as little as £9 each and given that the original medal presented to recipients bears no name or inscription of any sort on the front, the replicas are widely produced and indistinguishable from the original without handling.
It was Henry’s expressed wish that after his death his medals should go to ‘the Leamington Museum’ but they have had a rather complicated and somewhat controversial history and were eventually gifted to the Green Howards museum in Richmond having been sold at Sotheby’s in November 1980 for £27,000, a world record price. Cllr Norman Parker attended the auction on behalf of Warwick District Council with a view to buying the medals for the town but Norman was outbid and the medals were purchased by Sir Ernest Harrison OBE, chairman of a number of blue chip companies and a trustee of the Green Howards. The subsequent history of the medals is covered in great detail in David Johnson’s excellent book about Henry’s wartime service, One Soldier and Hitler 1918.
While in no way wishing to disparage the good intentions of others, I remain to be convinced that a replica Victoria Cross of any sort has much credibility as an appropriate memorial to one of the bravest men who ever donned a khaki battledress. The Blue Plaque erected by Leamington Town Council last year in Kenilworth Street is for many of us a more fitting way of commemorating one of the town’s most illustrious sons.
I think that a bit of reflection might not be a bad idea before there is talk of raising public subscriptions and hopefully your correspondents might have views they wish to share on the subject.
Alan Griffin, Leam Street, Leamington