Irishmen who won first World War VCs to get commemorative paving stones

British government will recognise those who won the highest award for valour

The Victoria Cross: A total of 27 British soldiers who were born in what is now the Republic will receive the honour. The proposal is to erect the specially designed stones in their home towns on the centenary of the day in which the British army’s highest honour for bravery was won. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The Victoria Cross: A total of 27 British soldiers who were born in what is now the Republic will receive the honour. The proposal is to erect the specially designed stones in their home towns on the centenary of the day in which the British army’s highest honour for bravery was won. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Mon, Jan 27, 2014, 01:00


Every Irish-born soldier who won a Victoria Cross in the first World War is to have a paving stone erected in their honour paid for by the British government.

A total of 27 British soldiers who were born in what is now the Republic will receive the honour. The proposal is to erect the specially designed stones in their home towns on the centenary of the day in which the British army’s highest honour for bravery was won. The proposal was made by the British government in August last and was originally to apply only to those born in what is now the UK.

Objections were raised including by the English Catholic public school Stonyhurst which protested at the exclusion of one of its past pupils Lieutenant Maurice Dease.

He was born in Coole, Co Westmeath, before moving to England when he was seven.

He was the first British soldier to be awarded a VC on August 23rd, 1914, the first day of engagement by the British army in the war. Dease was killed when he continued to man a machine gun despite being shot four times at the Battle of Mons in Belgium.

Among those who are eligible for a VC paving stone is Sergeant-Major Martin Doyle from New Ross, Co Wexford.

He was awarded a VC in September 1918, but went on, after the war, to fight against the very army that gave it to him when he joined the IRA during the War of Independence.