Birmingham's 10 Great War Victoria Cross recipients are to be honoured with the creation of a Walk of Heroes.
The city’s bravest, who all received this country’s highest military honour for their First World War exploits, will be remembered with the laying of VC paving stones at the Hall of Memory.
The handful of heroes include Duddeston’s William Amey “for most conspicuous bravery” at Landrecies, France, on November 4, 1918. The 37-year-old lance corporal single-handedly stormed a farmhouse machine gun nest, killing two and driving the rest of the garrison into a cellar until help arrived.
He then rushed another post, taking 20 more prisoners.
No date for the walkway’s official unveiling has been given, but Birmingham City Council hopes to stage the ceremony in June.
The authority is now trying to track down relatives of the 10 and it is hoped one of the VC medals will be displayed in the Council House.
The move is part of a central government campaign unveiled last year by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to honour 1914-18 VC holders.
Whitehall has paid for the commemorative slabs.
Birmingham City Council’s deputy leader Coun Ian Ward said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to honour some of Birmingham’s bravest with a permanent marker of remembrance.
“We would like relatives of the deceased recipients to contact us so that we can invite them to a special ceremony in June when Birmingham’s commemorative paving stones will be laid.
“If anyone is related they should contact Nicola Gauld who is working on the project at Birmingham University at firstname.lastname@example.org”
The walkway will be a permanent reminder of the sacrifices made by the 10 whose bravery went far beyond the call of duty.
They include Aston’s Arthur Vickers, a private in the 2nd battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
On September 25, 1915, at Hulloch, France, the 33-year-old braved a firestorm of shells and machine gun bullets to cut through the maze of barbed wire which was holding up his battalion.
In broad daylight and with whizzbangs exploding around him, Arthur carried out the back-breaking work standing up. He survived the battle and died in July 1944, and is buried at Witton Cemetery. His medal is displayed at Warwick’s Royal Regiment of Fusilliers Museum.
Ladywood’s Herbert James is another who survived in the face of withering fire. On July 3, 1915, the 26-year-old second-lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment led a group of bomb throwers, tasked with taking a Turkish communication trench in Gallipoli.
Apart from Herbert, the entire party was wiped out. He stood alone in the face of murderous fire and kept the enemy at bay until back-up arrived. He was later promoted to Major and died in Kensington on August 15, 1958.
Handsworth’s Norman Finch, gained his medal for gallantry at sea on April 22, 1918. Aged 27, the Royal Marine Artillery sergeant was second in command of pom-poms and Lewis gun on HMS Vindictive as it prepared for battle off Zeebrugge, Belgium.
Despite facing a storm of shells and shrapnel, Sgt Finch and the commanding officer kept-up continuous fire. Two direct hits wiped-out everyone except the brave Brummie. Severely wounded, he continued to harass the enemy. Norman, who served in World War Two as a quartermaster, died in Portsmouth on March 15, 1966. His medal is on display at Southsea’s Royal Marines Museum.
With his men pinned down by snipers only 20 yards away, 36-year-old Albert Gill, from Ladywood, decided on drastic action. Knowing it meant certain death, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps sergeant stood up in the quagmire corner of Delville Wood, France, to direct his soldiers’ fire.
He was killed instantly. The date of his death – July 27, 1916 – was his birthday.
Despite facing heavy fire, Ladywood’s Alfred Knight, a 29-year-old sergeant in the London Regiment, single-handedly captured a German machine gun at Ypres on September 20, 1917. He also carried out other acts of bravery during a day which saw all platoon commanding officers killed or injured.
Alfred died in 1960 and is buried at Oscott Road Cemetery, Sutton Coldfield,
On May 16, 1915, in sodden Rue du Bois, something snapped within Lance-Corporal Joseph Tombs of The King’s Liverpool Regiment. He could no longer stand the moans of wounded men less than 100 yards away.
The 28-year-old repeatedly braved heavy fire to crawl out and drag colleagues to safety . He rescued four men – one using a rifle sling, placed round his neck and the injured soldier’s body.
In 1921, Joseph emigrated to Canada and served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War Two. He died in Toronto on June 28, 1966.
Hay Mills’ Thomas Turrall earned his VC at La Boiselle on July 3, 1916. The Worcestershire Regiment private stayed with a wounded officer for three hours under incessant fire.
Despite being completely cut-off, the 30-year-old managed to carry the wounded superior to British lines. Thomas died in his home city in 1964 and is buried at Robin Hood Cemetery in Solihull.
Pinned-down by a bombing party, on September 12, 1918, Aston’s Alfred Wilcox decided to give the enemy a taste of their own medicine. The 33-year-old lance-corporal with The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry picked-up the scattered stick-bombs and hurled them back.
He led his company in the capture of three machine guns near Laventie. He died in 1954 and is buried at St Peter and St Paul Churchyard, in Aston.
Burly John Marshall, from Stratford, earned his VC for “most conspicuous bravery, determination and leadership” in the November 4, 1918, attack on the Sambra-Oise canal.
The Irish Guardsman showed total disregard for his own safety when a bridge-building party were decimated. Under intense fire, he led volunteers to the bridge, and when it was repaired the lieutenant colonel attempted to rush across and was fatally wounded.
The whereabouts of his Victoria Cross is unknown.