Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Families meet over town's VC hero

Pte Fred Potts: Pic from Berkshire Yeomanry Museum
Pte Fred Potts was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery

The family of a Reading soldier awarded the Victoria Cross have met the relatives of the soldier he saved at Gallipoli in World War I for the first time.

Fred Potts, serving in Berkshire Yeomanry, dragged fellow soldier and townsman Arthur Andrews to safety on a shovel under heavy enemy fire in 1915.

Both men's families met at the Imperial War Museum, where Mr Potts' medal is displayed, as part of a documentary.

Reading MP Martin Salter has called for a memorial to be built to Pte Potts.

Pte Potts was a part-time soldier in the Berkshire Yeomanry, formed in 1794 following the declaration of war by France a year earlier.

In April 1915, the regiment sailed for Egypt and from there a few months later they were shipped to the Gallipoli peninsula where, against the Turks, they first saw action.

It was during a bloody battle on 21 August that Pte Potts earned the first yeomanry VC for "most conspicuous bravery in rescuing a comrade under heavy fire".

Shot in groin

On that fateful day he had been shot at in his left thigh - "the bullet had gone clean through".

Pte Andrews was gravely wounded after being shot in the groin but his fellow countryman dragged him for a staggering two days to safety.

Norah Andrews, Pte Andrews' daughter-in-law, said: "It is amazing that they [Pte Potts' family] lived so close and we did not know anything about them.

"I would not have had my lovely family if he had not been rescued."

(L-r) Pte Potts' grandson Bob Binham and granddaughter Ann Ames; Pte Andrews' grandson Christopher, daughter-in-law Nora and granddaughter Penny Poutney
Both families paid tribute to Pte Potts' bravery

Meanwhile, Ann Ames, granddaughter of Pte Potts, said of the meeting: "It is quite extraordinary [to meet Pte Andrews' family].

"My grandfather was very much a family man."

Berkshire Yeomanry Museum in Windsor houses a collection of letters and photographs which describe the soldiers' experiences.

Pte Potts, who attended Katesgrove Primary School, is commemorated for his heroics as one of their old boys on a plaque on a wall. He died in 1943.

In 1994 the 200th anniversary of the Yeomanry was marked by a massed parade of all surviving Yeomanry units in front of The Queen n Windsor Great Park.

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History of the Berkshire Yeomanry
06 Nov 09 |  History
What the Potts story means to me
05 Nov 09 |  History

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