A century after his death, one of Hammersmith & Fulham’s bravest heroes has been honoured at a formal ceremony.
Exactly 100 years ago, on 28 June 1917, 2nd Lt Frank Bernard Wearne’s act of gallantry during one of the most intense battles in the First World War earned him Britain’s highest military honour, the Victoria Cross.
The Fulham-born lieutenant was commanding a small group of men who advanced, and held, an enemy trench in the face of fierce fire during an operation to destroy tunnels and take prisoners.
A string of enemy counter-attacks followed, so the lieutenant leapt to his feet and ran along the trench parapet, firing and throwing bombs.
It so confused the enemy that they fell back in disarray. The brave soldier remained on top of the trench at Nash Alley, east of Loos, despite being severely wounded, and refused to leave his post or desert the men he was commanding.
In great pain, he continued to direct operations, consolidating the position and encouraging his comrades.
Just before the order to withdraw was given, he was again hit. While being stretchered away he was mortally wounded, and died on the battlefield.
Thanks to his magnificent fighting spirit it proved possible for his battalion to hold on to the flank.
Frank Wearne was born in Matheson Road on 1 March 1894, the son of Frank and Ada Wearne. He was one of three brothers who served in the First World War. Only one survived.
The posthumous VC was presented to Frank’s father at a ceremony on 20 October 1917 by King George V at Buckingham Palace.
Soldiers past and present gathered this week at the Fulham war memorial in Vicarage Gardens, where the Hammersmith & Fulham Mayor, Cllr Michael Cartwright, unveiled a memorial paving stone in the hero’s honour.
The vicar of All Saints, Fulham, the Rev Canon Joseph Hawes, opened the service, and there was a Bible reading by Wing Commander Mike Dudgeon, Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater London.
The Last Post was sounded, followed by Reveille. There was also a wreath-laying, led by the Mayor.
Later members of the Royal Yeomanry hosted a lunch for the guests.