A special paving stone to commemorate a Bristol-born war-hero, who was awarded the Victoria Cross following the First World War, was laid at St Peter’s Church, Castle Park today (Wednesday 16 August).
Horfield-born Frederick Room was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration, for valour in the face of the enemy on 17 October 1917.
Room was an acting Lance-Corporal in the 2nd Battalion of the The Royal Irish Regiment of the British Army during the First World War.
On 16 August 1917, at Frezenberg, Belgium, the Regiment was holding a line of shell-holes and short trenches and had suffered many casualties. Room, just 22 at the time, was in charge of a company of stretcher bearers. He worked continuously under intense fire, dressing the wounded and helping to evacuate them. The commemorative Victoria Cross paving stone will be unveiled exactly 100 years on from this heroic act.
After a long illness, Frederick Room died in hospital in Bristol on 19 January 1932, aged 36. He is buried at Greenbank Cemetery.
The commemorative event was held by the Cllr Lesley Alexander, Lord Mayor of Bristol. She was joined by Peaches Golding, Bristol's Lord Lieutenant, representatives from the Armed Forces, civic invitees and Room’s family.
Cllr Alexander said: “We all owe a massive debt to our service men and women, both past and present. I am proud that, as a city, we have an opportunity to remember and honour Frederick Room and seven other local men whose selfless acts of bravery were awarded with our nation’s highest honour- the Victoria Cross. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped to organise this event and hope these stones will allow people to show their respects to these heroes for years to come.”
This commemoration is part of a nationwide campaign to honour First World War Victoria Cross recipients. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are providing 469 commemorative paving stones to local authorities, 145 to the National Arboretum and 35 to the Republic of Ireland to mark the bravery of the people awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.
The first commemorative stone in Bristol was laid in 2014 for Douglas Reynolds. The stones are being laid across a five year period which began in 2014 and will conclude in 2019. Frederick Room’s stone is the third of eight stones in Bristol, being laid in honour of those that have been awarded a Victoria Cross and were connected to the city. Each stone will be laid on the 100th anniversary of the heroic action that each soldier was recognised for.
The seven other Victoria Cross holders with Bristol connections are Thomas Rendle (date of action 20 November 2014); Frederick Room (16 August 2017); 2nd Lt. Hardy Falconer Parsons (21 August 1917); Manley Angell Williams (21 March 1918); Lt. Col. Daniel Burges (18 September 1918); Harry Blanshard Wood (13 October 1918) and Commander Claude Congreve Dobson (18 August 1919).