Leamington war hero’s grave to be restored

The grave of William Amey at Leamington Cemetary. Picture by Barry Franklin.
The grave of William Amey at Leamington Cemetary. Picture by Barry Franklin.

A First World War soldier from Leamington who was awarded the highest possible military honour for his brave actions is to have his grave refurbished as part of a Government project.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has committed to spending £100,000 of Government funds on restoring the graves in need of repair of those who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the 1914-1918 conflict.

Among the graves across the country to be selected for the work is that of Lance Corporal William Amey, who was born in Birmingham but moved to Leamington after the war, where he worked as a business agent and spent the rest of his life. He died at the Warneford Hospital in May 1940 and was buried with full military honours at Leamington Cemetery.

After joining the Territorial Army in 1914 at the age of 33, he served with the 1/8th Warwickshire Regiment throughout the war. On November 14 1918, his battalion formed part of a divisional attack near the town of Landencies in France. The citation for his VC reads:

“For the most conspicous bravery during the attack [..] on his own initiative he led his section against a machine gun nest, under heavy fire, drove the garrison into a neighbouring farm and finally captured about 50 prisoners and several machine guns.

“Later, single-handed and under heavy fire, he attacked a machine gun post in a farm house, killied two of the garrison and drove the remainder into a cellar until assistance arrived.

“Subsequently, he single-handedly rushed a strongly-held post, capturing 20 more prisoners. He displayed throughout the day the highest degree of valour and determination.”

Another Leamington men to have received the VC was Henry Tandey, the most decorated private of the First World War. There is a blue plaque to commemorate him at the Angel Hotel in Kenilworth Road, as the building backs on to the now demolished place of birth of Tandey. The Green Howard soldier had fought at Ypres, the Somme and Passchendaele and was awarded the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal. But he suffered from a claim by Hitler that he had spared the future dictator’s life as he lay wounded.

Also awarded the VC - but before the First World War - was Lieutenant General Charles Augustus Goodfellow, who served in the Bombay Engineers in the Bengal Army during the Indian Mutiny in 1858. He was awarded the VC for risking his life under fire of matchlocks in attempt to save a soldier who had been shot. He moved to Leamington after retiring in 1896 and spent the rest of his life living in Warwick New Road.