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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Honour for city's first WWII hero
The Duke of Gloucester and Lt Gen Willoughby Norrie at the grave of Mr Beeley in 1942 - picture from army press officer
He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously by King George VI
The first Manchester man to be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War II is to have a plaque unveiled to remind the city of his bravery.

Rifleman John Beeley, from Openshaw, was killed in Sidi Rezegh, North Africa, in 1941. He was 23.

Mr Beeley was shot four times as he single-handedly overcame an enemy post which was firing at his company.

On Wednesday, a blue plaque is being unveiled in John Beeley Avenue, in Openshaw, detailing his actions.

Mr Beeley was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, a year after his death, by King George VI.

It was a purely personal act, he just leapt up and ran into the field
Tom Beeley, nephew

His nephew Tom Beeley, 67, will be attending the commemoration ceremony which has been organised by the Royal British Legion.

He told how his uncle had silenced two machine gun posts and an anti-tank gun but was shot four times.

But as a result of his courage and example his company eventually managed to take 700 prisoners and capture the airfield.

"It was a purely personal act, he just leapt up and ran into the field," his nephew said.

"He was an ordinary Manchester man who displayed extraordinary courage.

"He has achieved the highest honour any nation can bestow and that should be recognised by the people of Manchester, as an example to young and old alike.

"It is a long awaited but fitting tribute."

It is also hoped at least one soldier who served with Mr Beeley during the incident in which he was killed will attend the ceremony.


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