Stamford and Bourne MP: 'We should be commemorating our Armed Forces heroes like Corporal Charles Sharpe'
Stamford and Bourne MP Gareth Davies (Con) writes his regular column.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Armed Forces Covenant which has helped our veterans find work, helped reservists to take time off to serve and helped military spouses to train to further their own careers.
Until now, this agreement has been voluntary for employer organisations to sign up to, but this week the Armed Forces Bill was introduced in parliament to properly enshrine the covenant into law. This is an important step for the future care of those who serve in uniform, but it comes at a time when some are seeking to tear down monuments to our military past.
The Government should not have had to act to legally protect our statues and war memorials as it recently has, but this is a sad sign of our times. I believe we should stand up to those who wish to cancel our history by finding more visible and enduring ways of honouring our military heroes.
I want us to remember, for example, those ordinary individuals from our very own community, who went on to do extraordinary things for our country.
The Victoria Cross (VC) is our nation’s highest military honour for valour “in the presence of the enemy”. Only 1,358 individuals have ever been awarded this accolade, and I’m sure you know that one recipient grew up here locally in Pickworth, near Bourne.
Acting Corporal Charles Sharpe of the 2nd Battalion, the Lincolnshire Regiment, received his VC for “most conspicuous bravery” in 1915. He was a long way from home when, during the Second World War Battle of Aubers Ridge in France, armed with just a few handheld bombs, he took out an entire 50-yard enemy trench, all by himself.
His journey from Pickworth farmer’s boy to national war hero, should be marked and honoured as an inspiration to the next generation and we should find a way of more prominently marking his place in our history.
While some in our country have recently sought to erase our history and dampen our pride, I know that many more wish to preserve and protect the memories of those who sacrificed for our safety.
I am therefore joining other MPs across the country in calling on the Government to back a plan to see all recipients of the Victoria Cross honoured in the place where they grew up. It is my hope we in Lincolnshire can lead from the front on this, just as Corporal Sharpe did in France all those years ago.