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Blackheath Grandad's war secret revealed after 97 years

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: February 07, 2014

By John Workman

  • Derek Stevens with a photograph of his war hero father Henry Stevens

  • The Rowley Regis Central War Committee citation

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THE bravery of a Black Country World War One soldier has only come to light after 97 years – thanks to The Bugle.

Infantryman Henry Stevens, from Blackheath, won the Military Medal, probably in 1917, but was too humble to tell many of his family, including his granddaughter Joy Stevens.

However, when The Bugle appealed three weeks ago for readers to write in with their families' Great War stories, Henry's son, Derek Stevens, thought now was the right time to tell the story of this 1916 conscript to the 8th Lincolnshire Regiment.

But ironically no one knows what happened to the Military Medal which was lost to the family many years ago. The only proof they have is a citation given to him by Rowley Regis Urban District Central War Committee which mentions the medal.

Derek, from Cradley Heath, said: "Dad never spoke about his experiences of war, but he nevertheless had the scars to prove it. The noise from the guns had smashed his one ear drum and damaged his hearing in the other."

He added: "I found out most of what I know from my Gran who said while at the front he was with his mate when volunteers were asked to clamber into no man's land and recover wounded soldiers. His mate stuck his hand up and so did Dad."

The Military Medal is officially ranked as a Level 3 award and on the reverse the inscription reads 'For Bravery in the Field'. What Henry did in among the shell holes and barbed wire of no man's land to earn the Military Medal may never be known, but the words 'For Bravery in the Field' somehow seem sufficient. Henry's granddaughter Joy said: "I was dumbfounded when I heard grandfather's story, I knew nothing about it." Now she is doing more research to try and discover more.

Derek said he was a very proud man last week when he revealed the story of his dad's achievement to the rest of his family, and equally so to the Black Country Bugle.

He felt this year was the right time, but reckoned his dad Henry, who died in the 1950s, would have had none of it.

Another Great War story - Page 5

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