Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

PM backs Victoria Cross hero plan

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

Gordon Brown has given his backing to a campaign to raise £60,000 for a memorial to honour Reading's only holder of the Victoria Cross (VC).

Trooper Fred Potts was awarded the medal in August 1915 for his bravery when he dragged an injured comrade to safety on a shovel, in Gallipoli.

One idea is to erect a lifesize bronze or stone statue on a plinth in Forbury Gardens, Reading.

Speaking at PMQs, Mr Brown said he would do all he could to help.

The prime minster was responding to a question from Labour's Reading West MP Martin Salter.

Mr Salter said: "MPs and councillors of all parties and local military historians will be gathering to take forward plans to provide a permanent memorial to Trooper Potts.

"Would the prime minster... offer a message of support to our endeavours to mark forever the gallantry of this truly local hero?"

I hope that this proposal will move forward and we will do everything we can to help it
Gordon Brown

Mr Brown said: "A permanent memorial would be a great way of expressing... our continuing debt to all those who have served our country and been honoured for doing so.

"I hope that his proposal can move forward and we will do everything we can to help it."

Trooper Potts was a part-time soldier in the Berkshire Yeomanry when he was shipped to the Gallipoli peninsula where, against the Turks, he first saw action.

It was during a bloody battle on 21 August that he earned the first yeomanry VC for "most conspicuous bravery in rescuing a comrade under heavy fire", despite being shot in the thigh.

Comrade Trooper Arthur Andrews was also gravely wounded after being shot in the groin, but Trooper Potts dragged him to safety on the blade of a shovel under heavy enemy fire.

Trooper Potts survived World War I and returned to Reading to become a master tailor.

He died in 1943 having suffered throughout his life from his wounds.

The idea of a memorial came after his story was told in a BBC Radio Berkshire documentary broadcast on Remembrance Sunday last year.



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SEE ALSO
Memorial for Victoria Cross hero
04 Dec 09 |  Berkshire
Families meet over town's VC hero
06 Nov 09 |  Berkshire
History of the Berkshire Yeomanry
06 Nov 09 |  History
What the Potts story means to me
05 Nov 09 |  History

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