A Bradford World War One hero is to be honoured at a ceremony commemorating him being awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy.”
The ceremony which will mark the installation of a stone at Norfolk Gardens, will take place on Thursday, 19 November exactly 100 years to the day that 22 year old Corporal Samuel Meekosha took command during a bombardment by the Yser River near Ypres during World War One.
On 19 November 1915, Corporal Meekosha was with a platoon of about 20 NCOs and men holding an isolated trench. During a very heavy bombardment, six of the platoon were killed, seven were wounded and the rest were more or less buried. As there were no senior NCOs left in action Corporal Meekosha took command, sent for help and in spite of more big shells falling within 20 yards of him, he continued to dig out the wounded and buried men in full view of and in close range of the enemy. His outstanding bravery was recognised by being awarded the Victoria Cross.
The ceremony will be conducted by the Lord Mayor’s Chaplain, Revd Paul Bilton, and be attended by the Lord Mayor of Bradford Coun Joanne Dodds, descendents of Samuel, including two of his granddaughters, his great grandson, and a great niece who is travelling from Canada especially for the event.
There will also be representation from Bradford Council, the World War One Society, Bradford Bulls Birch Lane Heroes Project, Undercliffe Cemetery Charity, Friends of Heaton Cemetery and Police Museum as well as the Vice-Lieutenant Mr Tim Hare.
The stone for Samuel is the first of three stones to be laid in Bradford to commemorate the actions of Victoria Cross recipients from the city. Each stone will be laid on the 100th anniversary of the action for which the VC was awarded.
Although Samuel was born in Leeds, his family moved to West Bowling in Bradford when he was a baby, and Samuel always looked on the city as his home.
Samuel’s mother was English and he had a Polish father. He was proud of his Eastern European roots but was such a reluctant hero that he later changed his surname to Ingham, from his mother’s maiden name of Cunningham.
Samuel was a corporal in the 1st/6th Battalion of the British Army’s Territorial Force, The Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment of the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division and was based at Belle Vue Barracks in Manningham in Bradford.
His experiences and those of the men of the Bradford unit will also be the subject of a talk on Saturday 21 November at Bradford Local Studies Library. The talk is also accompanied by an exhibition from Bradford World War One Group, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, featuring stories of local men and women coping with the challenges of war.