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Islington Green memorial for ‘conspicuously brave’ soldiers

PUBLISHED: 18:45 21 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:46 21 March 2018

A memorial stone for John Sayer is laid at Islington Memorial Green. Picture: Em Fitzgerald

A memorial stone for John Sayer is laid at Islington Memorial Green. Picture: Em Fitzgerald

Em Fitzgerald

Two soldiers from Islington, who were both awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War, were honoured by the town hall today – 100 years after their brave actions.

The family of Frank Roberts at Islington Memorial Green. Picture: Em FitzgeraldThe family of Frank Roberts at Islington Memorial Green. Picture: Em Fitzgerald

John William Sayer and Frank Roberts were given the Victoria Cross for “conspicuous bravery” in spring 1918. Today, memorial stones were laid at Islington Memorial Green in their honour.

Watched by family members and Islington Veterans Association, it was part of the Victoria Cross Paving Stones project, which honours soldiers who fought during the First World War.

Cllr Gary Poole, Islington Council’s armed forces champion, said: “We are honoured to remember the bravery of Lance Corporal John Sayer and Lieutenant Colonel Frank Roberts.

“Both men showed great courage under fire and risked their own lives. Very sadly, Lance Corporal Sayer’s bravery ultimately cost him his life.

John Sayer. Picture: Islington Local History CentreJohn Sayer. Picture: Islington Local History Centre

“Today we also remember the brave servicemen and women who serve their country today, and who still put their personal safety and lives on the line.”

Mr Sayer was born in 50, Wellington Road on April 12, 1879. He enlisted in the army in 1916 as a machine gunner in the 8th Battalion of the Queen’s Royal (West Surrey) Regiment, and in 1917 was promoted Lance Corporal.

On March 21, 1918 Lance Corporal Sayer seized and defended an outpost near Le Verguier in France from the German offensive.

Lance Corporal Sayer has been cited as having had a great impact on holding back the Germans, but he was wounded in action and died four weeks later, aged 39.

Frank Roberts. Picture: Islington Local History CentreFrank Roberts. Picture: Islington Local History Centre

Frank Roberts was born in 3 Hamilton Road, Highbury, on June 2, 1891, he studied at the Royal Military College in Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Worcestershire Regiment.

He landed in France in November 1914 and over 12 days between March and April 1918, acting as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, the 26-year-old demonstrated bravery in a series of military actions.

In one instance Lt Col.Roberts was able to temporarily drive the enemy out of a village giving cover to withdrawing British troops.

Lt Col. Roberts was wounded in action but returned to lead his battalion until the end of the war on 11 November 1918.

After the war he attained the rank of Major General and only retired in December 1939.

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