Legions of villagers welcome war hero

Johnson Beharry with George Skipper.
Johnson Beharry with George Skipper.

A soldier who was awarded the highest military accolade for gallantry made a special trip north to speak at a local branch of the Royal British Legion.

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry VC was at Warkworth Memorial Hall on Thursday evening to talk about his life and experiences of serving in Iraq, where he won the Victoria Cross for outstanding valour in 2004.

He was the first living British serviceman to receive the legendary medal since 1965 and is now the only serving recipient. After serving in Kosovo and Northern Ireland, Beharry – who was born in Grenada – was posted to Iraq. On May 1 and June 11, 2004, as a Warrior armoured fighting vehicle driver, he saved dozens of fellow soldiers from ambushes but sustained life-threatening injuries in the process.

He was awarded the VC by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on April 27, 2005, while still recovering from devastating wounds to his head and back.

Jeff Watson, treasurer for the Warkworth and Amble branch of the Legion, said: “It’s great to see so many people here, both members and guests, and we are very honoured to have Johnson here tonight.”

L Cpl Beharry said the Legion was of vital importance to servicemen. “The Legion has always been there for soldiers, no matter what age they are,” he said. “I spent three years recovering from my injuries and it’s because of the efforts of people like you that I did.

“For me to stand here today as a member of the British Army, with my Victoria Cross, I could have not done it if it was not for you.”

Among those present were D-Day veterans George Skipper and Norman Grieveson, North Africa/Italian campaign veteran Frank Whyman, as well as ex-servicemen who saw action in the 1982 Falklands War and other conflicts, plus cadets from Amble’s W Company army cadet force.