Collection of medals underlines the incredible bravery of Withnell

The war memorial at St Paul's Church, Withnell, including a photograph of James Miller, VC
The war memorial at St Paul's Church, Withnell, including a photograph of James Miller, VC

During the First World War, a structure of honours and awards was introduced to recognise the bravery and distinguished service of personnel in the armed forces.

Many of these awards are still being awarded to men and women of the army, navy and Royal Air Force to this day.

An element of class structure existed with the award of certain honours, but many of the gallantry medals were in recognition of undisputable acts of bravery and
self-sacrifice.

Quite a claim to be proud of is that during the First World War, the small village of Withnell saw every available army gallantry award bestowed upon its enlisted sons.

The awards possessed by Withnell included the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal and Mention in Despatches oakleaf.

The highest award for bravery, the Victoria Cross, was awarded to Private James Miller who lost his life during his recognised act of heroism. His story will feature in detail in the Chorley and Leyland Guardian next summer, on the centenary of his deed.

Captain W Kay, who lived at Pleasant View in Withnell, not only won a number of awards for bravery but also rose through the ranks. After enlisting as a private in the Grenadier Guards he became an officer in the Manchester Regiment.

Not only was he awarded the Distinguished Service Order, his heroism was recognised with the Military Cross on three occasions; one of only 170 officers during the First World War to do so.

As a borough overall, service men from Chorley have been awarded all the bravery medals available to members of officers and other ranks from the three armed forces.

Not only have they earned the highest honours, some have even been recognised for acts of heroism by other countries such as France, Belgium and Russia.