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Welsh Victoria Cross winner's World War One bravery revealed


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Calls have been made for a memorial to be erected in war hero Frederick Barter's home town as the Great War centenary approaches.

At just 5ft 6ins, unassuming Frederick Barter was at first rejected by the army because of his slight build. But by the end of World War One the soldier was famed as one of Britain’s most fearsome warriors – and among one of the first in the campaign to receive the Victoria Cross. Sergeant Major Barter was given the award after he and eight volunteers stormed through the trenches in the Battle of Festubert hurling grenades at any Germans they came across. They captured 105 men and 500 of the 4,000 yards won in the battle before its end on May 24. Writer Alister Williams visited the site of the action as he was researching his book Heart of a Dragon – The VCs of Wales and the Welsh Regiments. “Barter himself discovered and cut 11 mine leads, situated about 20 yards apart, which were intended to blow up the trench should it fall into British hands,” he said. On June 29 the award of a VC to Barter was announced in the London Gazette. His citation credited him with “most conspicuous bravery.” On July 2 he returned to Cardiff to a hero’s welcome. Hundreds lined the streets to see him. He received his VC from King George V on July 12, 1915. While back in Britain he was made a second lieutenant. He was a captain by the end of the war. Frederick also received the Military Cross, the 1914 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal, Coronation medals in 1937 and 1953 and the Russian Order of St George medal. Beryl has never seen his VC. It was “kept safe somewhere” when she was a child. “I would love to see the medal, to think that it was given to him and pinned onto him.” Now it is held at the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, in Caernarfon Castle. While streets have been named after him in Wrexham – where the regiment was based – there is nothing in his home town of Cardiff to commemorate him. “What we have got to do is put up a fitting memorial for the lives that were lost, and for the men that had a VC given them, in Cardiff itself,” Beryl said. The call comes as next year’s WW1 centenary approaches. Cardiff council were unable to say whether a memorial would be possible, though an insider at the authority called him “deserving”. Alister said: “The man who was feted as Cardiff’s first Victoria Cross recipient of the Great War is now all but forgotten in the city of his birth.”

To see an image of Barter and to read the complete story: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/incredible-story-welsh-victoria-cross-5692929

Jean-Paul

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