Withnell: The Chorley village saw every available army gallantry award bestowed in World War One

Historian Stuart Clewlow pays tribute to Withnell which should be proud of its brave people in the forces.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 3:53 pm
Updated Friday, 9th July 2021, 4:28 pm
A war memorial in St.Paul’s Church, Withnell, including a photograph of James Miller, VC
A war memorial in St.Paul’s Church, Withnell, including a photograph of James Miller, VC

As the Chorley Guardian reflects on the 150 years since it published, we're telling the stories of people from our community who have touched peoples' lives.

During World War One 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.

We're asking Chorley Guardian readers to nominate 150 reasons to celebrate Chorley to mark the Guardian's 150th birthday

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 World War One, 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.

James Miller VC - Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

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His story will feature in detail in the Chorley 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.

As well as being awarded the Distinguished Service Order, his heroism was recognised with the Military Cross on three occasions; one of only 170 Officers during World War One to do so.

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

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

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