Brave war hero risked life to save his comrade
VC soldier
is honoured with plaque and parade

BY NEAL SNOWDON

Wigan's first VCA VALIANT Victoria Cross winner is to be honoured with a plaque at a memorial service attended by members of his old regiment.

Lance Corporal Thomas Woodcock won the VC for his bravery and determination in defending a post on the Western Front for 96 hours before rescuing a fallen colleague and then carrying him to safety.

He was later killed in action on March 27, 1918, shortly after his 30th birthday.

Today, the Regiment of the Irish Guards is to celebrate its centenary with a visit to St Patrick’s Church, Wigan, where a memorial plaque will be unveiled during a service in L/Cpl Woodcock’s memory.

He was born in Wigan in March 1888 and went to St Patrick’s primary school.

He worked in the mines, which made him exempt from wartime service, but the father-of-free volunteered to fight with the Irish Guards.

After his heroics, he returned to Wigan in March 1918, where he was given a civic reception and a parish reception in St Patrick’s school

Having earned the VC he did not have to return to fight in the war, but he headed back to the Front to fight just days after his hero’s reception on St Patrick’s Day.

His grave is in the British military cemetery at Douchy-les-Ayette, France.

L/Cpl Woodcock won his VC for defending a post which came under attack on all sides. While fellow soldiers escaped, he provided covering fire before fleeing when the enemy was only yards away.

As he crossed a river he heard a colleague scream for help.

L/Cpl Woodcock dodged bombs and bullets to pull him out of a stream and carry him to safety.

Before today’s memorial service, the Guards were to assemble in St Patrick’s Way and march to the church past the current St Patrick’s school, which is built on the site of L/Cpl Woodcock’s family home.

During the church service, the plaque was being unveiled by the Regiment of the Irish Guards’ Lt-Col Brigadier Sebastian Roberts.

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from Manchester Evening News  30 June  2000

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