Chorley VC hero to be honoured

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE. 'Handout photo issued by Spink of William Mariner. PRESS ASSOCAITION Photo. Issue date: Thursday November 23, 2006. See PA story SALE VC. Photo caption should read: Handout/PA.
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE. 'Handout photo issued by Spink of William Mariner. PRESS ASSOCAITION Photo. Issue date: Thursday November 23, 2006. See PA story SALE VC. Photo caption should read: Handout/PA.

A Chorley First World War hero will be honoured at a ceremony on Friday.

It is part of a national scheme that will see all 628 VC recipients of the First World War commemorated with a paving stone in their place of birth.

Rifleman William Mariner was born in Wellington Street, Chorley, in 1882 and served in a number of battles until his death, fighting in a German trench, near Loos, on June 30, 1916, aged just 34.

He was awarded the VC, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy, that can be given to British and Commonwealth forces, in 1915, after he single-handedly attacked and destroyed a machine gun post on the battlefield of Cambrai.

Chorley Council has arranged for the paving stone to be installed in the grounds of St Laurence’s Church, Union Street, on Friday afternoon.

There are very few traces of rifleman Mariner in and around Chorley.

However, a slate plaque was unveiled in his honour at St Laurence’s Old School, Parker Street, by Chorley Civic Society, in 2002.

Deputy leader of Chorley Council, councillor Peter Wilson, said: “Not a lot of people know about William Mariner and the brave, heroic acts he performed during the First World War.

“It is only fitting that we pay tribute to him locally and it is a great honour for Chorley to have this commemorative stone.

“The church yard of St Laurence’s was identified as the ideal location for the stone as local people and visitors will be able to view it and it is not too far away from where William Mariner was born.

“Winning a Victoria Cross is a rare and prestigious honour and residents should be proud of William Mariner’s supreme act of gallantry and what the commemorative stone stands for.

“The installation of this commemorative stone is also an opportune time to appeal to anyone who has information about the whereabouts of William Mariner’s Victoria Cross to come forward and contact the council.

“The Victoria Cross was last seen in 2006 when it was sold at auction in London and it would be the ultimate tribute to William Mariner to know that his Victoria Cross was in safe hands.”

Brigadier Christopher Coles, Commander of Preston-based 42nd Infantry Brigade and HQ North West, said: “William Mariner had been a Regular solider between 1900 and 1912, and so when the First World War started, he returned to his old regiment as a Reservist.

“His heroism and strength of character is shown not only by how he won his Victoria Cross, but also in the manner of his death while fighting in a German trench the following year. It is, therefore, very right and fitting that the Army and the town commemorate Rifleman Mariner in a way which shows that no matter what adversities we have to overcome, we can all perform great acts.”

Lieutenant Colonel Ian Sawers, Rifles Regional Colonel, said: “The Rifles as successors to Rifleman Mariner’s regiment, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, are honoured to have been invited to take part in this VC stone unveiling ceremony so that we can continue to commemorate the valiant deeds of our forebears.

“The courage shown by today’s Riflemen in conflicts around the world and demonstrated repeatedly in battle, indicates that the same determination and valour which William Mariner showed 100 years ago, is still an intrinsic element in the heart and mind of the modern, thinking Rifleman.”