Descendants of one of the last recipients of a First World War Victoria Cross travelled from as far afield as Brazil for commemoration ceremonies in Trafford today
James Marshall, who died on 4th November 1918, just a week before the Armstice was declared, has had a blue plaque unveiled in htown of Stretford, as well as a paving stone commemorated at Trafford Town Hall.
Lt Col Marshall, who was born in Stretford on 12th June 1887, was attached to the Lancashire Fusiliers. On 4th November he was commanding 16th Battalion at the battle of the Sambre and organised work parties to repair a vital bridge over the Sambre-Oise Canal, despite coming under intense fire.
When the bridge was repaired he attempted to cross at the head of his battalion and was killed. He was aged 31.
Part of the citation for the Victoria Cross in the London Gazette of the 13th February 1919 reads: “For the most conspicuous bravery, determination and leadership in the attack on the Sambre-Oise Canal, northern France, on the 4th November 1918 The passage of the canal was of vital importance, and the gallantry displayed by all ranks was largely due to the inspiring example set by Lt Col Marshall.”
He is buried in Ors Communal Cemetery, Nord, France, near to the poet Wilfred Owen who was killed in the same action. A statue inspired by the poetry of Wilfred Owen is to be unveiled in Birkenhead on the same day as Lt Col Marshall’s commemoration.
Cllr Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, said: “It is a great privilege to be able to commemorate a true hero, especially on the centenary of his gallant death.