Stonyhurst College lecturer celebrates Victoria Cross war hero with new story

Paul Garlington (right) at the On Courage book launch with Victoria Cross war hero Johnson Beharry. (s)
Paul Garlington (right) at the On Courage book launch with Victoria Cross war hero Johnson Beharry. (s)
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A Ribble Valley historian has joined celebrities and sport stars in contributing to a new book about the First World War.

Paul Garlington, a history lecturer at Stonyhurst College, has helped to create a collection of 28 stories which was launched at the National Army Museum, London, on May 16th, as part of the Sebastopol Project.

On Courage tells of British soldiers who have received Victoria Cross and George Cross awards for their brave actions.

The book has been created to support current and former soldiers from the British Armed Forces by raising money for charities Combat Stress and The Victoria Cross and George Cross Association.

Paul said: “It was a remarkable experience to be involved with the Sebastopol Project which keeps military memories alive and supports great charities like Combat Stress.”

Each story is introduced by a celebrity, including Bear Grylls, Joanna Lumley, Sir Bobby Charlton, Dame Kelly Holmes and the late Sir Ken Dodd.

They have been written by historians and authors, such as Tom Bromley, Saul David, James Holland and Dr Spencer Jones.

Several recipients of the awards attended the launch, including Johnson Beharry, who was given a Victoria Cross in March 2005 for driving his comrades to safety when their vehicle was ambushed in Iraq, despite having life-threatening head injuries.

Kate Adie, a former BBC war reporter, and Baroness Hale, a British judge and the first female president of the UK’s Supreme Court, were also guests.

Paul wrote about Maurice Dease, the first soldier of World War One to be given a Victoria Cross.

Maurice was a 24-year-old lieutenant in the Fourth Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and a former pupil at Stonyhurst College.

He received the award for his actions on August 23rd, 1914, at Mons, Belgium, when he continued to control the fire of his machine guns despite being badly injured in the neck and leg.

Paul added: “Maurice was a true hero in every sense of the word. He was a normal chap who was thrown into an extraordinary circumstance and then showed exceptional courage!”

The historian also owns Paul Garlington Battlefield Tours which has been taking the public to The Western Front for more than 20 years.

On Courage is available at Waterstones and www.amazon.co.uk