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Stone Unveiling for Private Henry Robson VC

A paving stone is unveiled in Robson Close, South Shields, in commemoration of Private Henry Robson VC.

A commemorative paving stone has been unveiled to honour the memory of South Tyneside Victoria Cross winner, Private Henry Robson.

The stone was revealed during a special ceremony on Sunday 14 December, to mark the 100th anniversary of Pte Robson's act of gallantry that won him the prestigious Victoria Cross during the first months of the First World War.

The event took place in Robson Close, South Shields - one of a number of streets on Gentoo's new Beechbrooke housing development in the Simonside area to be named after local people awarded the Victoria Cross.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Fay Cunningham laid a wreath during the special ceremony after the stone was officially unveiled by Councillor Ed Malcolm, Chairman of the South Tyneside's Armed Forces Forum.

Councillor Malcolm said: "This year is a hugely important year for the Armed Forces, marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of The Great War, and it is very fitting that the selfless act of valour shown by Private Henry Robson is being commemorated in his birth place.

"This memorial stone will provide a lasting legacy to Private Robson in the very street named after him in the town he was born for local people to see and pay their respects.

"It was a poignant event, giving us all an opportunity to honour the local heroes and the sacrifices they made for their country in this terrible war 100 years ago, and in subsequent conflicts around the world. We are determined to make sure their bravery is never forgotten."

The event began with a procession to the memorial led by a piper of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, followed by a short service of dedication and remembrance carried out by Reverend Paul Kennedy, who read out a citation to Pte Robson.

Councillor Ed Malcolm performed the stone unveiling, before wreaths were laid by the Mayor and Colonel James Finlay on behalf of Pte Robson's old regiment. This was followed by Lament 'The Flowers of the Forest', the 'Last Post' and a minute's silence. The service ended with 'Reveille'.

The Mayor was joined by Mayoress Stella Matthewson as well as local councillors and members of the Armed Forces community including serving soldiers from the Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland - successor unit to Pte Robson's old regiment, The Royal Scots.

Military organisations involved in the ceremony also included The Royal Scots Association, The Royal British Legion and the Durham Light Infantry Association.

The Victoria Cross commemorative stone is part of a national scheme that will see every Victoria Cross recipient of the First World War - 628 in total - commemorated with a paving stone.

The first Victoria Cross commemorative paving stones were laid in communities around the UK on 23 August.

Two more South Tyneside men who were awarded the medal during the First World War, Joseph Collin and Thomas Young, will be honoured with commemorative paving stones in 2018 to mark the centenary of their actions.

Pte Robson was born in Hampden Street, South Shields in 1894 and died in Toronto in 1964. He joined The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) in 1912 - the 'First of Foot' and the oldest infantry regiment in the British Army (founded in 1633).

He was honoured with the Victoria Cross for his bravery near Kemmel, near Ypres in Belgium on 14 December 1914.

On this day, during an attack on the German position, he left his trench under very heavy fire and rescued a wounded non-commissioned officer. He subsequently made an attempt to bring another wounded man into cover while exposed to severe fire. During this attempt he was wounded but he persevered until rendered helpless by being shot a second time.

Pte Robson was later given the Freedom of the Borough of South Shields in 1915. He died in Canada where he had served as the Sergeant-at-Arms in the Ontario Parliament in Toronto.

Old images and information about Private Henry Robson VC are on display at Central Library in South Shields to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his act of gallantry that won him his prestigious Victoria Cross.

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