October 21st, 2016

Campaign to honour Leamington VC hero

Updated: 3:14 pm, May 07, 2015

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to honour a Leamington solider who was the most decorated soldier of the First World War.

Henry Tandey won the three highest awards for bravery in the British Army in the space of only six weeks, including the highest honour of the Victoria Cross – only 1,354 of which have been awarded in just under 160 years.

There is a blue plaque marking his birthplace on the Angel Hotel on Regent Street, and a block of flats on Union Road bears the name Henry Tandy Court in his honour.

And now to mark the centenary of the Great War, Leamington funeral directors Henry Ison & Sons are now appealing to townspeople to help raise £500 to create a replica of Tandey’s Victoria Cross which will be donated to the town and put on permanent public display.

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

In order to produce the replica, they had to seek permission from The Green Howards Regimental Museum in Yorkshire where the original medal is held.

Mr Hewison said: “We now hope residents will get behind our campaign and help us reach the total needed to commission the replica medal.”

Donations can be made by visiting the Henry Ison & Sons branch at 2 Leam Terrace, or by visiting their crowd-fund webpage – http://igg.me/at/henry-tandey-vc-appeal. They will also be holding an information and fund raising day at the Royal Priors Shopping Centre on Friday November 7.

Who was Henry Tandey

Henry Tandey was born in Leamington in 1891. The son of a former soldier, he spent part of his childhood in an orphanage, before becoming a boiler attendant at a local hotel.

Tandey enlisted into the Green Howards Regiment in August 1910. After basic training he was posted to their 2nd Battalion in January of the following year, serving with them in Guernsey and South Africa prior to the outbreak of the First World War.

Tandey took part in the first Battle of Ypres in October 1914 and was shot in the arm at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He was wounded again during the Battle of Passchendale in November 1917 while serving with the 5th Battalion the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.

The war on the Western Front swung increasingly in favour of the Allies in late Summer 1918, and in an almost unparallelled burst of heroics by a single soldier, Tandey won the three highest awards for bravery in only six weeks. He was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal, then a Military Medal and bar, and finally, a Victoria Cross for ‘desperate bravery and great initiative’ in one of the final battles of the war. Although twice wounded, he refused to leave until the fight was won.

He was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V at an investiture in Buckingham Palace in the week before Christmas 1918.

The following year he was made a Freeman of the Borough of Royal Leamington Spa and was presented with an illuminated scroll and an engraved silver-gilt casket.

On Armistice Day in 1920, he took part in the service for the burial of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, where he was one of a hundred holders of the VC who were selected to line the nave of the Abbey as the guard of honour.

Pte Henry Tandey’s array of medals housed at The Green Howards Regimental Museum in Yorkshire. (s)