ONE of Wantage's great First World War heroes was honoured at a memorial service 100 years and four days from his death.

Major Philip Wroughton, who gave his life during a terrifying charge against enemy forces in Palestine, was commemorated on Sunday.

The biggest-ever family service was held at the memorial cross erected in his honour at the family's historic home Woolley Park, just south of Wantage.

It was organised by his great nephew, namesake and current owner of Woolley Park Sir Philip Wroughton KCVO, who invited family from across the county.

Sir Philip, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire from 1995 until 2008, said: "We have always had some sort of gathering on the Sunday closest to his death with half a dozen people or more, but this year we though we would like to mark the centenary of his death and make it a bigger occasion.

"We've never had anything quite like this since the earliest days."

Born at Woolley Park in 1887, when neighbouring Wantage was still in Berkshire, the future Major Philip Wroughton was commissioned into the Berkshire Yeomanry in 1908.

He was mobilised on August 4, 1914, and went on to serve in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine.

He was appointed Officer Commanding D (Wantage) Squadron in 1916 and was considered a hero of the town.

In 1917 he was badly wounded at Gallipoli and had to come home to be treated.

He was duly mended and sent back out to Palestine, only to be killed weeks later in the Second Battle of Gaza, April 17 - 19, 1917.

As part of the British and French push to capture Palestine from Ottoman Empire, The Imperial Mounted Division, of which the Berkshire Yeomanry was part, was ordered to mount a diversionary attack.

After a strong Turkish counter-attack against forward elements of the Division, the Berkshire Yeomanry were called up and advanced at a gallop.

Eyewitness Captain Teichman of the Worcester Yeomanry described the action thus: "Suddenly I saw a sight which thrilled me: out of the wall of smoke there emerged a mass of horsemen which gradually opened out into extended order and filled the foreground: it was the Berkshire Yeomanry.

"Disdaining to dismount, for they knew it was only a matter of minutes, the Yeomanry galloped on, here and there a horse and rider coming down as they covered the two miles to Atawineh Ridge.

"Dismounting, the Yeomanry came in to the advance at once and, after driving in front of the Turkish advance, they effectively re-established the defensive line."

Major Wroughton, who it was said was much-loved by all ranks, was fatally wounded by shellfire during the battle.

Joining Sir Philip to mark his heroic great uncle's life and death on Sunday were former members of the Berkshire Yeomanry; Major Paul Ukpai, Officer Commanding 94 (Berkshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron, and Sir David Black Bt DL, president of the Berkshire Yeomanry Regimental Association.