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Cecil joins the trail of heroes

Published on Wednesday, 21st March 2018

A ceremony marking the gallantry of a Nuneaton soldier is being held in Riversley Park tomorrow Thursday 22 March at 11:45am.

Leonard c knox

Cecil Leonard Knox, a second lieutenant with the Royal Engineers, ran through heavy enemy fire to halt a German advance in 1918. He was awarded the VC (Victoria Cross) for this outstanding act of bravery, which saw him run back to reignite a failed fuse, ensuring that a bridge was blown up. He escaped serious injury but his hearing was permanently damaged as a result of his courageous action. 

Now, one hundred years on, Cecil is being commemorated by his home town as part of a national programme marking the centenary of the First World War with a trail of stones across the country. Each stone is dedicated and inscribed with the name of a VC recipient from the conflict and installed in the town of their birth.

Cecil’s former family home occupied the site of the Chase Hotel on Higham Lane. After the war he was made a Freeman of the Borough of Nuneaton and he went on to be second in command of the Nuneaton Company of the Home Guard in 1940.

He died in 1943 as a result of a motorcycle accident at Tuttle Hill and was buried in Leicester. His memory lives on in the names of two local streets - Cecil Leonard Knox Crescent, at Bramcote Barracks, and Knox Crescent, on the St Nicolas Park estate.

Tomorrow’s ceremony commences at 11:45am and will be led by the Mayor, Cllr Bill Hancox.

Cllr Hancox said:

“It is a great honour to pay tribute to Cecil Knox; we owe an immense debt of gratitude to him and others who fought for our freedom and it’s wonderful to have a permanent reminder in Riversley Park.

“In laying the stone for Cecil, we will not only honour his exceptional bravery but also pay tribute to all our service men and women who continue to keep us safe.”

Armed Forces Community Covenant Representative, Cllr Barry Longden said:

“We welcome the national scheme to commemorate our VC heroes with paving stones in the town of their birth. These stones will ensure that there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen who fought for our country.

“Cecil Knox’s bravery will be long-remembered by those in his home town and I’m delighted that we will be able to share his story more widely as part of the national VC trail.”

Another Nuneaton resident awarded a VC in the First World War was William Beesley, a 22-year-old private in the Rifle Brigade who captured a German command post single-handedly in 1918. As William was born in Castle Gresley, Derbyshire, his commemorative paving stone will be located there.

A spreadsheet compiled by the Imperial War Museum and the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, containing the names of all Victoria Cross recipients 1914-18, can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/first-world-war-victoria-cross-recipients.