War hero's bravery to be remembered at 100th anniversary ceremony

Private Michael Heaviside.
Private Michael Heaviside.
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The heroic actions of a Durham Light Infantry Victoria Cross recipient are to be celebrated in a commemorative service.

Saturday will mark the 100th anniversary of Private Michael Heaviside’s act of bravery, which led him to be awarded the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a member of the armed forces.

A stone commemorating his actions has been supplied by the Government and will be unveiled as part of the ceremony at St Giles church in Gilesgate, Durham.

Pte Heaviside was born in nearby Station Lane.

On May 6, 1917, in broad daylight, Pte Heaviside went to the aid of a wounded soldier, who was dying of thirst and had been lying in no man’s land for over three days.

Despite it being almost suicidal to take on the sniper fire and hail of machine gun bullets in daylight, Pte Heaviside made it with water, food and bandages.

After again running the enemy fire to return later that night with two others, they again risked their lives to bring the wounded soldier back to the trenches.

For his part Pte Heaviside was awarded the Victoria Cross for his most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.

John Murphy, Durham Area Action Partnership co-ordinator, said: “It’s been an honour to help bring this commemorative stone to the church parish where Private Heaviside was born.

“As well as remembering the deeds of this great man, we hope the stone will provide inspiration to the community around Durham.”

The service will be conducted by the Rev Dr Alan Bartlett and after the service the stone commemoration will be unveiled and blessed with wreaths laid by guests and family.

The family of Pte Heaviside said in a statement: “We are honoured that the actions of Michael Heaviside VC are to be recognised on the 100th anniversary of his saving a

colleague during the Battle of Arras with a service marking the commemorative stone to be laid in his birthplace.”

His grandson, Jim Heaviside, added: “Michael Heaviside was my grandad and I’m proud that he and other such heroes will never be forgotten.”

The service is open to members of the public, and will begin at 10.30am on Saturday.

Parking is also available in Durham University’s Hild Bede College, for anyone who wishes to attend.