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My Norwich

Real life heroes’ honours to be set in stone

Published on Wednesday, 16th August 2017

Two local World War I heroes will be honoured this month as commemorative stones are laid 100 years after they were awarded the highest military decoration, the Victoria Cross.

Sidney Day (1891-1959) of the 11th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment and Wilfred Edwards (1894-1972) of the 7th Battalion, The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry were both awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917 – aged just 26 and 24 years old.

Saturday 26 August 11 to 11:30am, Norwich War Memorial, St Peters Street

Members of the public are invited to join The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Cllr David Fullman, and Bishop of Norwich, The Right Reverend Graham James, on Saturday 26 August for a ceremony where commemorative stones, to be laid in front of Norwich War Memorial, will be unveiled.

Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor David Fullman said:

“Everyone is welcome to attend this very poignant event.  It is an opportunity to remember and honour those who fought for our country and show our deepest gratitude to their loved ones.”

Guests will arrive on St Peters Street to the stirring sounds of Norwich City Concert Band who will play patriotic music from 10:50am. Following a welcome by the Lord Mayor at 11am, the Bishop will give some opening words.

Michael Day, son of Sidney, will deliver a testimonial about his father and Neil Storey, local historian and author  will speak about the life and military career of Wilfred Edwards.

Lord Dannatt will read  citations published in the London Gazette at the time the men were awarded their Victoria Crosses and accompany Michael Day to unveil his father’s stone and a representative from the Rifles Office Yorkshire to unveil that of Wilfred Edward. The stones will be  blessed by The Right Reverend Graham James.

There will be a further stone laid in 2018 for Ernest Seaman of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in commemoration of the Victoria Cross he was awarded in 1918.

More about the heroes:

Sidney Day

Sidney James Day was born on 3 July 1891 in St Ann’s Lane, St Julian, Norwich. He had four sisters: Ethel, Rosa, Edith, Alice and a brother, Harry. Three other children died when they were very young. His father, William Day, was a storekeeper at the local brewery and Sidney's mother was called Elizabeth.  Sidney Day is buried in the Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth having died in 1959.

On 26 August 1917, east of Hargicourt, France, Corporal Day was in command of a bombing section detailed to clear a maze of trenches still held by the enemy. This he did, killing two machine gunners and taking four prisoners.

On reaching a point where the trench had been levelled, he went alone and bombed his way through to the left in order to gain touch with the neighbouring troops.

Immediately on his return to his section, a stick bomb fell into the trench occupied by two officers and three other ranks. Corporal Day seized the bomb and threw it over the trench, where it immediately exploded. This prompt action saved the lives of those in the trench.

He afterwards completed the clearing of the trench and established himself in an advanced position, remaining for sixty six hours at his post, which came under intense hostile shell, grenade and rifle fire.

Wilfred Edwards

Wilfred Edwards was born in Norwich on 16 February 1893 and his family moved to Leeds when he was a boy.

He was awarded the VC for his actions on 16 August 1917 at Langemarck, Belgium.

When all the company officers were lost, Private Edwards, without hesitation and under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from a strong concrete fort, dashed forward, bombed through the loopholes, surmounted the fort and waved to his company to advance.

Three officers and 30 other ranks were taken prisoner by him in the fort. Later he was a runner and eventually guided most of the battalion out through very difficult ground.

Edwards was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in December 1917 and was demobilised in June 1919. He re-enlisted in the army when World War II broke out and rose to the rank of Major. He died in January 1972 and his medals are currently displayed in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Museum, Doncaster, England.

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