Burnley's Four Great War VC's

Burnley has for many years laid claim to three Great war Victoria Cross winners, although in actual fact only two were born in these parts and one was claimed as an "adopted son" of the Borough :


2nd Lieutenant Hugh Colvin 9th Cheshire Regiment, born in Rosegrove in 1887, when he was 9 years old his family moved to Romily in Cheshire. He won his Victoria Cross at Hessian Wood, Belgium, on the 20th September 1917.

15067 Private Thomas Whittam 1st Coldstream Guards, born in Worsthorne, Burnley in 1888. He won his Victoria Cross at Captains Farm, Belgium on the 31st July 1917. His Victoria Cross is on display at Towneley Hall.

2nd Lieutenant Alfred Victor Smith 1/5th East Lancashire Regiment, born in Guildford, Surrey in 1891. He was the son of Burnley's police chief and lived on Scott Park Road. He won his Victoria Cross on the 22nd December 1915, in Gallipoli by sacrificing his own life to save others. His Victoria Cross is on display at Towneley Hall.

During the late 1930's a resident of Burnley took on the identity of the following Victoria Cross Winner:

7079 Corporal Thomas Edward Rendle 1st Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry, born in Bedminster, Bristol in 1884. He won his Victoria Cross at Wulverghem, Belgium on the 20th November 1914.

The individual in question was a certain Joseph Rendle who bought a Victoria Cross and assumed the identity of Thomas Edward (who emigrated to South Africa in 1920), attending various functions before he was eventually caught and fined.

However it now appears that Burnley can now fairly lay a part claim to another Great War Victoria Cross winner :

2742 Private Robert Matthew Beatham 1st Australian Army, born in Glassonby, Cumberland. He won his Victoria Cross on the 9th August 1918 at Rosiere (East of Amiens, France) .

Although I have not yet been able to verify that Robert ever lived in Burnley, he came from a very large family who moved to Burnley in the early 1900's.

Three of his Brothers,

345582 Frank William Army Service Corps

S/14767 John Wilfred Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders

29037 Isaac A 1st Coldstream Guards

were all living in Burnley when they lost their lives due to the war







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