One of the earliest awarded Victoria Cross recipients in Hampshire will be remembered in a special ceremony at 6.30 pm on 26 August 2014 at Lockerley and East Dean Memorial Hall attended by the Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Jan Lovell.
Frederick Luke was born in West Tytherley, near Romsey, Hampshire in 1895. He enlisted at Winchester in January 1913 and joined the Royal Field Artillery (RFA). When war broke out he was serving as a Driver with the 37th Battery RFA and took part in the retreat from Mons. It was during this retreat at the famous action of Le Cateau on 26 August 1914 that Fred was awarded the Victoria Cross for voluntarily assisting in the retrieval of a captured gun from within 100 yards of the German’s leading line, while under heavy fire from the enemy. The action resulted in the death of several of Fred’s fellow soldiers. The Victoria Cross was awarded to Fred Luke and two others in recognition of their extraordinary bravery and achievement shown during this action.
The ceremony of remembrance will be led by the Reverend James Pitkin and will include prayers, the playing of the Last Post and the Reveille, and the dedication of a special paving stone marking Luke’s bravery. The stone will be unveiled in the entrance approach to the Memorial Hall, and is part of a national scheme orchestrated by the Department of Communities and Local Government, to provide permanent memorials to Victoria Cross heroes in their home towns and villages.
The stone will be unveiled by a local 18 year old scout from Lockerley – the same age as Fred Luke when he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
A total of 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded during the First World War. Of these 454 Victoria Crosses were awarded to UK-born recipients, 173 were awarded to servicemen who fought for Britain, but were born overseas, and 1 person was awarded the Victoria Cross twice.
Fred Luke survived the First World War and went on to fight and survive the Second World War as well.