Henry Weale VC memorial, Shotton
The memorial garden by the entrance to Jubilee Street commemorates Henry Weale, who received the Victoria Cross – Britain’s highest gallantry award – in the First World War.
Henry, known as Harry, was born in Shotton in 1897. He lived with his parents and six siblings in a small terraced house in Brook Street. After attending St Ethelwold’s School, Harry worked at the John Summers & Sons steelworks.
He served with the 14th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in the war. After training in Llandudno and Winnall Down Camp, Winchester, the battalion reached France in December 1915. It was a particularly cold winter and Harry was frostbitten. In subsequent months he suffered a leg wound and then a shrapnel injury in the neck – something that affected him the rest of his life.
In summer 1918 the battalion was at Bazentin-le-Grand, in the Somme region. Lance Corporal Weale was ordered to take out German machine-gun posts which were holding up a British advance. He was awarded the VC for his gallantry in this action. The citation said: “When his Lewis gun failed him, on his own initiative, he rushed the nearest post and killed the crew, then went for the others, the crews of which fled on his approach. His dashing action cleared the way for the advance, inspired his comrades and resulted in the capture of all the machine-guns.”
Harry came home to a hero’s welcome. Local dignitaries, town band and servicemen greeted him at the railway station. He received a gold watch and chain from his former employer.
He was demobilised in 1919 but, like many others, struggled with the return to civilian life. He married Susannah Harrison, whom he’d met at Rhyl while recovering from war wounds. They settled at Prince Edward Avenue, Rhyl, and brought up five children. Their relationship was sometimes tempestuous.
Harry found it difficult to get employment and was charged in 1927, along with another man, with stealing whisky, port, and gin worth almost £8 from the Old Town Hall Stores, Rhyl. His suspended jail sentence attracted national media attention. Just before the Second World War, he was in trouble for stealing scrap metal.
He died in January 1959 and is buried at Rhyl cemetery.
With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno
Postcode: CH5 1DQ View Location Map