|Michael Heaviside V.C.
"Most conspicuous bravery
Died 16th April 1939 aged 58
Rest in Peace"
On the evening of the 5th of May 1917, 15 Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry returned to their barricades on the Hindenburg Line; they were separated from the German positions by only 100 yards. Snipers and machine gunners were very active; any movement attracted deadly fire.
Next day, at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, a sentry noticed movement in a shell hole only forty yards from the German Line; a wounded British soldier was desperately trying to attract attention by waving his empty water bottle.
As one eye witness later wrote: "We could see bullets striking the ground around him and every minute we expected to be his last, but this brave chap went on."
Michael reached the stricken soldier, now almost demented with thirst: he had been lying in the shell hole for four days. Michael gave him water, dressed his wounds and promised he would return with help. That night Michael led two stretcher-bearers out to the wounded soldier and carried him back to safety. Without doubt Michael Heaviside's actions had saved the man's life.
On the 8th of June 1917 the London Gazette announced the award of the Victoria Cross to Michael Heaviside for his "most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty." A few weeks later, on the 21st of July, Michael traveled to London and was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V.
After the war Michael Heaviside VC returned to a hero's welcome. Slipping quietly back into his old life, however, he resumed work as a miner at Craghead.
On the 26th of April 1939 he died at his home in Bloemfontein Terrace, aged 58. Hundreds of mourners followed his coffin to St. Thomas's Church, Craghead. A firing party from 8 Battalion DLI fired three volley's across his grave, followed by "Last Post" played by the battalion's buglers.
A headstone was finally provided for his unmarked grave. A plaque will soon be placed at Heaviside Wood, named in his honour.