Today I laid a small token on the Speaker’s Garden of Remembrance in Parliament on behalf of the people of Ipswich for all those who served in British conflicts. This was a moment for every MP from 650 constituencies to remember a local hero.
I have worked with the Royal British Legion in Ipswich to find out more about the stories of individuals from Ipswich who fought. I was struck by the particular story of Sgt. Arthur F Saunders, who was the first Suffolk Regiment soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross after his bravery at the Battle of Loos in World War I.
Born in Ipswich on Cauldwell Hall Road in 1878. He went to St John’s CoE Primary and California Schools. He worked for Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies, the well-known engineering firm in Ipswich. On 19 September 1914 he joined the Regular Army and was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment. The Battalion went over to France on 30 August 1915 and were involved in the Battle of Loos.
During this battle… ‘When his officer had been wounded in the attack he took charge of two machine-guns and a few men, and, although severely wounded in the thigh, closely followed the last four charges of another battalion, and rendered every possible support. Later, when the remains of the battalion which he had been supporting had been forced to retire, he stuck to one of his guns, continued to give clear orders, and by continuous firing did his best to cover the retirement.’
It was for this bravery that he earned himself The Victoria Cross.
This story is but one of many in Ipswich. I was privileged to honour the memory of Sgt. Saunders, and of many others from Ipswich, in Parliament today.