New Memorial

A SWINTON soldier is to be honoured for all time with two further recipients of the Victoria Cross on a new memorial.

The names of Thomas Norman Jackson of Swinton, George William Chafer of Bramley and Ian John McKay of Rotherham have been engraved and polished on to the granite coping stones of the new fountain pool within Clifton Park’s Memorial Garden.

Yesterday, citations for the three men who hold Britain’s highest award for gallantry were read out at a special hour-long service conducted by the Vicar of Rotherham, the Rev Canon David Bliss, and the Priest-in-Charge at St. James, Clifton, the Rev. Abi Thompson.

On September 27, 1918, during the First World War in France, Lance Corporal Thomas Norman Jackson of the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, was the first to volunteer to follow Captain CH Frisby across the Canal du Nord in his rush against an enemy machine-gun post.

With two comrades, he followed his officer across the canal and rushed the post, capturing two machine-guns and enabling the companies to advance. Later, Lance Corporal Jackson was the first to jump in to a German trench which his platoon had to clear. After further intense action he was killed. At the age of just 21, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for most “conspicuous bravery and self sacrifice in the attack across the Canal du Nord, near Graincourt.”

Private George William Chafer received the VC for his bravery while serving with the 1st Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment, in 1916 at the Somme. And the third VC was awarded to Sergeant Ian McKay of the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, who was killed in the Falklands conflict in 1982, aged 29, while trying to save his colleagues from enemy fire. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his courage and leadership.

Sergeant McKay’s mother, Mrs Freda McKay, was invited to the service, along with representatives of the three men’s regiments, including the Parachute Regiment, the Yorkshire Regiment and the Territorial Army, with the Royal British Legion, the Fellowship of Services and other ex-service organisations.

Also attending the service was the Vice Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, Giles Bloomer, the Mayor and Mayoress of Rotherham, Coun Shaun and Lisa Wright, the Chief Executive of Rotherham Council, Martin Kimber and Leader Coun Roger Stone.

Mayor Shaun Wright of Rawmarsh said: “The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration that can be awarded to members of the armed forces. It is awarded for valour ‘in the face of the enemy’ and the fact that only 39 have been presented since the Second World War shows how significant this is and why it is so important the three holders are recognised here in Rotherham. Their bravery is an inspiration to us all.”