THE grandson of a Victoria Cross hero has been threatened with police action after he vowed to put a war memorial on his village green on Remembrance Sunday.

Keith Brooks said Horspath Village Green must have a memorial to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

He has pledged to put the hand-painted wooden tribute with names of those who fought in both world wars on the green at sunrise on Sunday.

But Horspath Parish Council, which owns the land and is planning an official tribute, said any “unauthorised” memorial will be removed.

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It added that if Mr Brooks did lay down a tribute, it would be a criminal offence under the 1869 Inclosure Act and it had informed the police of his “confrontational intentions”.

Mr Brooks, 67, said: “It’s a show of respect on the centenary of the start of the First World War.

“Everyone I have spoken to in the village is in favour of it.

“It’s like the one in the church but I wanted everyone to see it.”

Mr Brooks wrote to the council in February offering to install and pay for a memorial.

But parish clerk Hayley Kogel wrote back: “Councillors are waiting to receive suggestions for a war memorial from residents in the village.”

She said it welcomed his suggestions but added that any memorial “will need to be agreed by the parish council/village trustees prior to being erected”.

The May 20 letter said: “I must point out that any unauthorised memorial that is placed in the village or on the village green will be removed.”

Mr Brooks, whose grandfather Sergeant Major Edward Brooks was honoured for capturing an enemy machine gun, said: “That was like a red rag to a bull.”

The Gateley resident proposed a permanent stone memorial in February, but said: “They didn’t seem interested.”

He admitted he does not have a “happy relationship” with the parish council.

He briefly sat as a councillor four years ago but quit after three months because of what he called “friction”.

But he denied there was any ulterior motive in his memorial plan, saying: “This is nothing to do with the parish council, it’s about putting a memorial on the green.

“But if I waited for them to do it, it would never happen.”

And he said he has the backing of the only two Second World War veterans left in the village.

Royal Navy veteran John Sheppard, 90, who was awarded an Atlantic Star for protecting shipping fleets, said: “I’m all in favour of it. Horspath is very lax in not having one on the green like every other village. I think Keith’s is very nice and very professional.’’ Older brother and Navy veteran Harry, who died two years ago, had always wanted a public war memorial for the village, he said.

Fellow Royal Navy veteran John West, 88, of Blenheim Way, was an anti-aircraft gunner in the Mediterranean for three years and was rescued after his ship hit a mine.

The grandfather-of-two said: “We are getting few and far between now, if we don’t put this in front of people’s eyes it will be forgotten.”

Ms Kogel said the parish council had no knowledge of Mr Brooks’ plans to install a memorial on Sunday.

She added: “Granting permission for something of which we have no knowledge, nor plans, nor indeed have been advised of the location could be considered negligent if a small child were to play on this and be injured.

“For that considered reason alone, permission is denied and Mr Brooks will be held responsible for any claims arising from his actions and for the cost of removing the item.”
 

WHAT THE MEMORIAL SAYS

Decorated with two Royal British Legion poppy wreaths, the memorial’s epitaph reads: “To show respect and gratitude. 

“This is in some small way to show our respect for those who served our country in times of war. 

“Some returned, some returned damaged and some perished and will never return but they were and are heroes, every one of them. 

“For their courage and bravery they serve the utmost respect and gratitude and will never be forgotten.”

 

SERGEANT MAJOR EDWARD BROOKS

The Oxford Times:

  • SGT Major Edward Brooks, pictured, of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, was one of only two soldiers in that regiment to win a Victoria Cross in the First World War. 
  • His medal, now kept in a bank vault in Winchester, is worth £150k. 
  • He earned it by capturing a German machine gun at Fayet in France on April 28, 1917, and turning it on the enemy. 
  • In 2009, the Ministry of Defence named the Territorial Army’s Edward Brooks Barracks, in Abingdon, in his honour.

 

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