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A Victoria Cross winner who saved 200 lives to be celebrated after grave transformed by volunteers

1 year ago

A Victoria Cross winner who saved 200 lives to be celebrated after grave transformed by volunteers

Private Richard George Masters, from Southport, was awarded Britain’s highest honour after he saved the lives of more than 200 wounded comrades despite fierce enemy fire during the First World War.

A heroic Victoria Cross winner will be celebrated at a special ceremony on Monday 17th April 2023 after his grave was transformed by volunteers.

Private Masters, of the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) attached to 141 Field Ambulance carried out his act of huge bravery at a place known to the British Army Tommies as ‘Hell Fire Corner’ near Bethune, in France..

The Citation for the VC is as follows:

“On 9 April 1918 near Bethune, France, owing to an enemy attack, communications were cut off and the wounded could not be evacuated. 

Victoria cross Richard George Masters
Credit: Roy Bevan

“The road was reported impassable but Private Masters volunteered to try to get through and after great difficulty succeeded, although he had to clear the road of all sorts of debris. He made journey after journey throughout the afternoon over a road which was being shelled and swept by machine-gun fire and once he was bombed by an aeroplane. 

“The greater number of wounded (approximately 200 men) were evacuated by him as his was the only car (motorised ambulance) which got through.”

Private Masters survived the war and returned to civilian life until his passing on 4th April 1963 and is buried with his beloved wife Alice at St Cuthbert’s Church Cemetery in Churchtown, Southport.

His gravestone had become dilapidated over the years. But former soldiers Edward Byrne and Roland Sutton have worked alongside his surviving relatives to raise funds to transform the gravestone into something his family and the town can be proud of.

They said: “Philip Masters, Judy Masters and Joanne Rich (Masters) allowed us to redesign and fit a new headstone to reflect the heroism of our local hero..

Victoria cross Richard George Masters

“The ceremony will take place at St Cuthbert’s Church Cemetery, Churchtown, Southport, from 11.30am on Monday, 17th April 2023.  

“Richard George Masters VC’s  family will be the guests of honour for the day. Also attending  will be the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, the High Sheriff of Merseyside, and the Mayor of Sefton alongside members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families, pupils from Birkdale Primary School and Churchtown Primary School.

“Everybody is welcome to come and join us at the church

“A special thanks goes to Stand Up For Southport, which was able to trace Private Richard  George Masters’ surviving family, without whose help we could not have made this happen.”  



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