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Burgess Park memorial for Victoria Cross decorated World War One hero

A lone bugler sounded out the Last Post in Burgess Park this morning in a commemoration ceremony for a decorated WW1 soldier from Peckham.

The tribute from the Scots Guard Band was in memory of Jack ‘The Lad’ Harvey, who single-handedly saved his company on the Western Front by rushing a machine gun post under heavy fire, shooting two enemy soldiers and bayoneting another.

The heroic soldier then continued along the trenches before compelling 37 enemy soldiers to surrender in their trench on his own. The daring endeavour spared his company heavy causalities.

From left: Nick Harvey, Rae Earl (Jack’s grand-daughter), Fr David Vyvyan, The Mayor, Lily Stephens, Jacky Stephens (Jack’s grand-daughter) and Grace Stephens (Jack’s great-grand-daughter) Image: Giles Anderson/MOD 2018

The private’s brave acts on 2 September 1918 just north of Péronne, France earned him the Victoria Cross by King George V in March 1919.

Today’s ceremony was part of a UK Government First World War Centenary campaign, which sees commemorative paving stones laid at the birth places of Victoria Cross (VC) recipients of the war.

The memorial to the war hero was unveiled today in Burgess Park as part of a campaign which honours the centenary of Victoria Cross winners Image: Giles Anderson/MOD 2018

The private’s family members were at the ceremony to see the stone laid, including his grandson, Nick Harvey, who read the citation, his granddaughters, Jacky and Rae, and his great granddaughter, Lily Stephens, who read the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon.

The service was led by Father David Vyvyan of St Phillip’s Camberwell, alongside the Worshipful Mayor of Southwark, Councillor Catherine Rose and Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC COG.

The brave soldier – who was just 27 when he rescued his company – was born on 24 August 1891 in Peckham, before joining the 1/22 Battalion, The London Regiment (The Queen’s) in November 1914.

The decorated veteran served on the Western Front including in major battles at Ypres, The Somme and Passchendaele.

Jack, pictured with his wife Rose, as he was awarded the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace

He married Rose Maud (nee Neale) in 1915, before returning to Camberwell at the end of the war where they had one son, Jack Victor Charles.

The couple lived in Peckham and Camberwell including 34 Harling Street, which is now part of Burgess Park and Lidgate Road, before moving to Surrey.

The war hero died on the 15 August 1940, aged 48, and is now buried at Redstone Cemetery, Redhill.


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