PROUD relatives joined civic dignitaries and residents to honour a courageous war hero who received the Victoria Cross for ‘magnificent bravery’ in the First World War.

Exactly 100 years after Sgt James Clarke, 24, led a platoon braving heavy gunfire to take a heavily defended ridge, capturing gun posts and prisoners on the Western Front, a day of commemorative events was held in his home town.

Around 25 members of his family travelled from the Isle of Man, Rochdale, Burnley and Edinburgh to see the unveiling of a stone, a street named in his honour and two memorial benches put in place.

Lancashire Fusiliers from his regiment mounted a guard of honour.

Sgt Clarke’s grandson David Hughes, 63, said: “It was a very very proud moment to have him recognised in his home town.

“He was picked out for his gallantry but everyone who was there was a hero in my view.”

Granddaughter Sue Kewley, 61, who was brought up by Sgt Clarke’s widow Betty, said: “Grandma used to tell us about him . It was really moving to see the yellow road signs with his medals on them. It was a proud day.”

Grandson Denis Hughes, 65, added: “I thought it was wonderful. We will tell all our grandchildren about it.”

Rev Tim Hanson led a remembrance service and unveiled a stone in a memorial garden dedicated to Sgt Clarke outside the Lifestyle Centre.

A new road sign – James Clarke Road – was uncovered at the new Spring Croft housing development.

Memorial benches featuring a dedication to the 247 Winsford men killed in the First World War were placed at the Brunner Guildhall.

Town mayor Cllr Gina Lewis said: “It was a wonderful day, made even more wonderful by the presence of so many of James Clarke’s relatives.

“None of us can really imagine what it was like to fight in the First World War, to be there in the trenches and on the battlefields not knowing whether you would be killed at any moment.

“It was also so hard for the families back home who would live day by day not knowing what had happened to their loved ones.

“James’ bravery took place at the end of what had been a very long war and was a part of the final thrust towards victory.

“He is rightly honoured for what he did and we remembered him and all those who we lost.”

Winsford resident Chris Alton, who campaigned for 10 years to win public recognition for Sgt Clarke, said: “It was a good day and a great legacy for future generations.”

Cllr Charlie Parkinson, who worked tirelessly for the past decade to secure funding for the commemoration, said: “It was very emotional. I would like to thank all the town councillors and clerks Alan Warburton and Mark Bailey for their support.”