In the year of the First World War Centenary, Royal Sutton Coldfield Civic Society have marked the occasion by commissioning blue plaques in memory of two Sutton Victoria Cross Holders – Charles Bonner and Alan Jerrard - at their old school, Bishop Vesey. These plaques were generously funded by the Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust.
The plaques were unveiled in a ceremony at Bishop Vesey where guests were able to hear about the lives of the two men from Mr David Partridge, nephew of Charles Bonner, and Mr Christopher John, Vice Chairman of the Western Front Association. A collection of memorabilia was also on display in the Old School, including replicas of the Victoria Crosses.
Charles Bonner VC gained his award for action against a German U-boat in the face of great peril, while Alan Jerrard VC was awarded his after attacking a squadron of Austrian planes, inflicting considerable damage before being shot down. Both men are commemorated with local street names: Bonner Drive and Jerrard Drive.
Sutton’s MP Andrew Mitchell visited the school to view the plaques and expressed his admiration for the two heroes, and his support for the Civic Society’s ongoing programme of blue plaques, which provide a visual reminder of the Town’s heritage. Mr Mitchell said “all of us in Sutton will be quietly proud of these two brave men who fought for our country in the First World War and have brought such distinction and honour to our town. I congratulate the Civic Society on the initiative to place these two blue plaques in a fittingly prominent position in our town, on the school where they were both educated. It is particularly appropriate in the run up to Rememberance Day this year, which is always a significant event here in Sutton, and will be especially significant in this centenary year”.