A BLUE plaque commissioned by Worcester Civic Society to commemorate one of the most memorable figures of the First World War is to be unveiled in the city.

The Reverend Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy was the parish vicar at St Paul’s in the Blockhouse church in Worcester city centre when war broke out in 1914. He became an army chaplain and earned the nickname “Woodbine Willie” because he used to hand out cigarettes to troops in the trenches of the Western Front. His exploits, for which he was awarded the MIlitary Cross, became indelibly planted in the national psyche and earned this modest man hero status

The plaque on the church will be unveiled after the morning service at St Paul’s at noon on Sunday, October 19. The ceremony will also be attended by Canon Paul Tongue, who has done extensive research into the life and works of Woodbine Willie and other local dignitaries.

Studdert Kennedy wrote numerous poems about his experiences in the trenches, which were published after the war. He later became a personal chaplain to King George V and died in 1929.

His vestments are held in Old St. Martin's Church in the Cornmarket in Worcester and he is buried in St. John's Cemetery. There are also plans to erect a statue of Woodbine Willie near the new Territorial Army centre in Lowesmoor.

David Warren, the senior leader of St Paul’s Church, said: "We are delighted to have this blue plaque on the church to remind passers-by of Woodbine Willie and how he demonstrated God’s love and compassion in the midst of the horrors of the trenches. As a church at the heart of the city, we aim to reach out to the local community to share that same message of hope.”