Kirton honours its war hero
A community has been praised for the way in which it has honoured the memory of its war hero 100 years after he received the Victoria Cross for his courage.
Relatives of Sgt Harold Jackson travelled to Kirton from as far away as Australia for the unveiling of a memorial stone and described the local arrangements and the local turnout for the event as "phenomenal".
Malcolm Herbert's father was Sgt Jackson's brother. He travelled from Clitheroe in Lancashire for Thursday's ceremony and said: "What this community has done is incredible; to find this is phenomenal."
Attending with his parents from Swansea was Michael Barker who had travelled to Kirton all the way from Sydney, Australia. His father's grandmother was Sgt Jackson's sister.
Sgt Jackson's brother emigrated to Queensland, Australia in the 1940s and relatives Bill Jackson and his sister Linda Rose in Australia sent a wreath to be laid in Sgt Jackson's memory at Kirton War Memorial.
His great niece, Jean Middlebrook, husband Aubrey and son Richard attended from Bournemouth and were soon making the acquaintance in Kirton Town Hall of relatives they barely knew about.
Jean said: "I was brought up to know all about Chummy Jackson and what he did. We are very proud and will visit his grave in France on the occasion of the centenary of his death in August."
Members of the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment attended and Major Gary England said: "This means a lot for the regiment, for those currently serving and those who have served, to celebrate 100 years since those brave men and women served their country and their local community. There has been a great turnout to mark the occasion. There is clearly great regard for Sgt Jackson here - he is their local hero and it makes us very proud."
Guests proceeded from the town hall to the war memorial to be welcomed by Kirton Parish Council chairman Cllr Ian Turner.
Mr Stan Naylor recalled Sgt Jackson's heroic deeds leading to him receiving the VC and Father Paul Blanch, vicar of St Peter and St Paul's Church, Kirton, dedicated and unveiled the commemorative paving stone at the foot of the war memorial.
Regimental Colonel David O'Kelly, of the East Yorkshire Regiment, read the Exhortation and the Yorkshire Regiment bugler sounded a poignant Last Post as banners were lowered and raised and the Reveille sounded after a minute's silence.
Mr Toby Dennis, Lord Lieutentant of Lincolnshire read the Kohima Epitaph.
Wreaths were laid by the Lord Lieutenant, Major England, Cllr Turner, Boston Mayor Cllr Bernard Rush, the Royal British Legion and Sgt Jackson's family.
The National Anthem was led by Kae Turley and Lucy Dopherty from Kirton's Thomas Middlecott Academy.
Sgt Jackson received his VC from King George V at Buckingham Palace after single-handed action in which he flushed out the enemy and took a machine-gun out of action.
The London Gazette of May 8, 1918, recorded:
"No. 18474 Sjt. Harold Jackson, E. Yorks. R. (Kirton, nr. Boston, Lincs.).
"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.
"Sjt. Jackson volunteered and went out through the hostile barrage and brought back valuable information regarding the enemy's movements.
"Later, when the enemy had established themselves in our line, this N.C.O. rushed at them and, single-handed, bombed them out into the open.
"Shortly afterwards, again singlehanded, he stained an enemy machine-gun, threw Mills bombs at the detachment, and put the gun out of action.
"On a subsequent occasion, when all his officers had become casualties, this very gallant N.C.O. led his company in the attack, and, when ordered to retire, he withdrew the company successfully under heavy fire.
"He then went out repeatedly under heavy fire and carried in wounded."
The action took place at Hermies, France. But Sgt Jackson's war was not over until he was killed in action at Mouquet Farm, near Thiepval, Somme, France, on August 24, 1918, aged 26. His body was located in 1927, close to the same place where he had won his VC, and his ashes were interred at Flers.
He was the only person in the borough to be awarded the VC, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Jackson Drive in Kirton is named after him.