Paving stone laid in Willesden in memory of World War One soldier awarded a Victoria Cross

Charles Garforth

Charles Garforth - Credit: Archant

A soldier from Willesden has become one of the first in the country to have a paving stone laid to honour his gallantry during the First World War.

Charles Garforth

Charles Garforth - Credit: Archant

A soldier from Willesden has become one of the first in the country to have a paving stone laid to honour his gallantry during the First World War.

Cpl Charles Garforth, who was awarded a Victoria Cross (VC) for his heroic acts in France in 1914, has had a commemorative slab placed in Lechmere Road, near his birthplace.

The stone has been laid exactly 100 years to the day from his first act of bravery when he saved his comrades from certain death after volunteering to cut a wire fence under heavy machine gun fire, allowing his squadron to make their escape.

He also rescued a sergeant trapped under his dead horse and carried him to safety.

Charles Garforth

Charles Garforth - Credit: Archant


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Born in Brent in 1891, Mr Garforth, who was one of 10 children, joined the ninth Battalion Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment, Territoral Force at 18.

He was promoted to corporal before the outbreak of war, during which he fell into enemy hands as a prisoner of war in Laventie, France, in October 1914.

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Following the war, he married Lilian Ha. They had four children with, the eldest of whom was killed aged six after being run over. Mr Garforth died aged 81 in 1973.

Doug Garforth, his grandson, said: “I am extremely proud of my grandfather. His acts of bravery saved the lives of his fellow man. His courage is an inspiration to all of us.”

Doug Garforth holding a replica of the Victoria Cross awarded to his grandfather (pic credit: Jan Ne

Doug Garforth holding a replica of the Victoria Cross awarded to his grandfather (pic credit: Jan Nevill) - Credit: Archant

“He was a gentle person and a fantastic father, grandfather and husband.”

Cllr James Denselow, lead member for stronger communities at Brent Council, said: “We’re proud that Charles Ernest Garforth was born in Willesden Green in the London Borough of Brent and was one of the first men to win a Victoria Cross in the First World War. It’s very fitting that the VC recipients of World War One are remembered with a commemorative paving stone and I hope people come to see the paving stone on Lechmere Road and find out more about Charles Garforth.”

The event launched a four-year programme organised by the council’s libraries, arts and heritage team which will see a series of events and exhibitions to commemorate the centenary of World War One.

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