John Ormsby (10th January 1881 to 20th July 1952)

 

On a run up to Scarborough for a long weekend I veered off the motorway to find Dewsbury Cemetery and hover over the brave bones of John Orsmby.

 

He was a seasoned soldier by the age of 36 when he was fighting in Fayet in France in the First World War. On 14th April 1917 his troop were trying to clear a village to capture an important strategic position. Bullets poured in on them from a hidden machine gun and some of the troop were shot dead before they hit the soil. By sheer luck John survived and continued to eliminate some snipers. When he saw the only surviving officer was wounded he took command of the troop and led them safely across 400 yards of heavy gunfire to a new position (which they held until help arrived.) Many were prevented from being shot to death.

 

He was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 30th June 1917

 

He died at his home in Dewsbury in July 1952 aged 71. At his funeral the Requiem Mass was held at St Paulinus Church. Army trucks escorted the coffin to the grave when I’m stood. He’d been a well-respected citizen around the town and about six hundred people lined the route to see his last journey. He was given a full military funeral with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry firing three volleys over the grave before the Last Post and Reveille were played.

 

There was nobody in the cemetery (alive anyway) except one man. All those thousands of graves and he just happened to be tending to a grave nearby. While he was bending over weeding I took a few photos. The man turned round three times to catch me doing a few hearty salutes and his brow wrinkled a little. If you can’t do a salute over a person who’s been awarded a Victoria Cross when can you? Back at the car I saw the man walk over to read the gravestone. I hope he tells his family about the brave dude lying there and they go to see him (and do a heart salute.)

 

 

 

 

Think I’ll grow a moustache like that…

 

 

Here he is…

 

Touching the “VC” and there’s the medal with John’s grandson and his family who went to view it.

 

With some others who died fighting…