THE BRAVERY of a First World War hero will be forever remembered at his former school in Leamington.
One of Arnold Lodge’s most famous old boys, Colonel John Cridland Barrett was awarded the Victoria Cross for his ‘most conspicuois bravery and devotion to duty’ during the attack on Pontruet in Northern France on September 24, 1918.
And on Friday (November 21) representatives from Col Barrrett’s regiment The Royal Leicestershire presented the school with a replica of his Victoria Cross and to tell current pupils about the famous old boy.
Col Barrett was educated at the Kenilworth Road school in the early 1900s and later went on to serve with the army until being discharged in 1920.
King George V presented him with the Victoria Cross at an investiture at Buckingham Palace in 1919. During the same year, Leamington made him a Freeman of the Borough.
He picked up his medical studies after the Armistice and had a long and distinguished career as a surgeon, becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1928. He died in Leicester in March 1977 at the age of 79.
Headteacher Nicola Craig said: “As a school, we are immensely proud of Col Barrett’s achievements both during his service in the First World War but also of his career as a surgeon.
“By all accounts, he was a modest man but his enthusiasm, loyalty and commitment are values that we hold in high esteem.”
Pupils presentedrepresentatives of the regiment with £200 they raised for the The Royal Leicestershire Regiment Memorial Appeal – a charity aiming to raise £40,000 for a National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire.
Col Barrett’s bravery was reported in the London Gazette citation published in December1918:
“Owing to the darkness and smoke barrage a number of men lost direction. Lieutenant Barrett found himself advancing towards Forgan’s Trench which contained numerous machine guns. Without hesitation he collected all available men and charged the nearest group of machine guns, being wounded on the way. In spite of this, he gained the trench and vigorously attacked the garrison, personally disposing of two machine guns and inflicting many casualties. He was again severely wounded, but nevertheless climbed out of the trench in order to fix his position and locate the enemy. This he succeeded in doing and, despite exhaustion from wounds, gave detailed orders to his men to cut their way back to the battalion, which they did. He himself refused help and was again wounded, so seriously that he could not move and had to be carried out. In spite of his wounds he had managed to fight on, and his spirit was magnificent throughout. It was due to his coolness and grasp of the situation that any of his party were able to get out alive.”
Arnold Lodge famous old boy Colonel John Cridland Barrett. (s)