A TROOPER POTTS VC Memorial Board will be unveiled at a ceremony at Reading Crematorium on Wednesday 2nd November, poignantly the anniversary of Potts’ death.
The memorial board, located in the waiting room in the South Chapel, tells the story of Trooper Frederick Potts, Reading’s only Victoria Cross holder, and the man he rescued, Trooper Andrews.
The board is a collaborative project between members of the Trooper Potts VC Memorial Trust and Reading Borough Council’s crematorium team and has been generously funded by A.B. Walker and Sons, Funeral Directors and VGL printers.
Trooper Frederick William Owen Potts was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for ‘valour in the face of the enemy’, for his deeds when he endangered his own life to drag a wounded comrade from the battlefield at Scimitar Hill, during the Battle of Gallipoli, over 21-23 August 1915.
Trooper Potts died on 2nd November 1943 at the age of 50. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance at Reading Crematorium.
The unveiling ceremony, at 10am, will be attended by members of the Potts family, the Mayor of Reading, members of the crematorium team, Trooper Potts VC Memorial Trust and brothers, Matthew and Julian Walker, from A.B. Walker.
The Crematorium is also offering an open morning the same day, where members of the public can take part in a tour of the facilities, with staff members on hand to answer any questions. Staff will be available to show visitors round at 10.30am, 11am & 11.30am.
Cllr Paul Gittings, Reading Lead Member for Consumer Services, said: “Trooper Potts is an important figure in our town’s history. The story of his heroic support of a wounded comrade really reaches out to people. I’m pleased we’ve been able to include the Trooper Potts VC Memorial board at the Crematorium to help keep his memory alive.”
Richard Bennett, Chairman of the Trooper Potts VC Trust said: “A bronze plaque to Trooper Potts VC was erected at the Crematorium at the time of Fred’s death, however, now installed within the building, is of necessity somewhat inaccessible. We were therefore delighted to be approached earlier in the year by the Crematorium team with the proposal that an information board about Trooper Potts VC be established in the waiting room of the South Chapel and that A B Walker and Son had most kindly offered to cover the cost of the design and installation.
“We have worked with the family, the Crematorium team, Julian Walker and designer Anne-Marie Carroll, to develop a design. That it is being unveiled on the 73rd anniversary, to the day, of Fred’s death is particularly poignant for the family. We wish to thank Reading Borough Council, Julian Walker and VGL printers for being so supportive of this initiative.”
Julian Walker of A B Walker Funeral Directors said: “My brother Matthew and I are honoured to support the remembrance of a man who, in the hardest of circumstances, put his friend ahead of himself. We wish to thank Reading Crematorium staff for putting us in touch with the project.”
To take part in the Crematorium open morning and / or attend the Trooper Potts memorial unveiling, please contact 0118 9372200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO CALL: The media are invited to send a photographer to the unveiling ceremony with members of the Potts family, the Mayor of Reading, representatives from the Trooper Potts VC Trust, A.B. Walker and Son Funeral Directors and members of the crematorium team, on Wednesday 2nd November at 10am.
The Potts Story
Frederick Owen Potts won his VC on Scimitar Hill at Gallipoli between 21st and 23rd August 1915, where the Berkshire Yeomanry suffered 50 per cent casualties. Trooper Potts, wounded in the thigh directly in front of the Turkish lines, sought shelter in a patch of scrub, where he was joined by Arthur Andrews, a fellow Reading man, who was even more seriously wounded.
For 48 hours they endured blistering sun and Turkish fire by day, moving towards the British lines at night, but progress was slow and Andrews was clearly failing. On the third day, Potts found an entrenching shovel which he used to drag Andrews downhill to the safety of the British lines. He was the first man serving with the Yeomanry to be awarded The Victoria Cross. Both men survived the war. Trooper Andrews died in 1980 at the age of 89.
Richard Bennett, Chairman Trooper Potts VC Memorial Trust