John Readitt (19th January 1897 to 9th June 1964)

 

 

Born in Clayton, Manchester, John was educated locally and like so many Manchester lads football played a large part in his life. When he left school he joined his father as a clogger and shoe repairer in the family business. Soon they secured a ten-year contract to make and repair the football boots at Manchester United Football Club.

 

On February 25, 1917 in Mesopotamia (now part of Iraq) he advanced five times against heavy machine-gun fire at close range. All his comrades were killed beside him, even his officer. Though alone yet he still reached the enemy barricade. Unfortunately he was forced to retreat (continuing to throw bombs though.) When support reached him he helped bomb the enemy until they took over the barricade. He was only 20 years old Ė 20! I was a dopey dole-claiming innocent at that age.

 

When the war ended he returned to work with his father and took over the family business on the latterís death. John married in 1921 and he and his wife brought up two sons and a daughter. Acknowledged by those who knew him to be a quiet and unassuming man, his deep modesty prevented him talking much about his Victoria Cross and the gallant deeds that won it. Nevertheless, during his lifetime he liked to attend the official occasions to which he, as a Victoria Cross recipient, was regularly invited. He was present at the V.C. Centenary Review by Queen Elizabeth II in Hyde Park in June 1956, at several Buckingham Palace garden parties, official dinners at the House of Lords, Mansion House and elsewhere through from 1920 to the early 1960s. Also he attended the Second World War Victory Parade in Whitehall and the associated dinner at the Dorchester Hotel in 1946.

 

He died on 9 June 1964 aged 67 after a long illness at his home in Clayton and was buried with much ceremony.

 

Note the A4 (almost) weatherproof datasheet someone has put by the grave.