A WREATH laying ceremony is to take place in Worcester to honour the bravery of a local soldier during the opening exchanges of the First World War Battle of the Somme.

It is to be held at the Worcestershire Regiment memorial stone in Gheluvelt Park on Sunday, July 3, one hundred years to the day after Private Thomas Turrall was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing a severely wounded officer from the battlefield. Sadly the officer, Lt Jennings, died two hours after Turrall carried him to safety, but not before he had dictated an account of the soldier's actions which led to Pte Turrall receiving the VC.

The action took place at the strongly fortified village of La Boiselle in France, which was captured by the British in a night attack. However, all the senior officers were killed or wounded and control was difficult. Small parties, one of which was led by Lt Jennings pushed forward through the village, bombing, taking prisoners and picking up stragglers.

Pte Turrall, one of the Battalion bombers, joined the party as a hidden machine gun opened fire. Turrall flung himself flat, escaping injury, but the rest of the party were killed, except Lt Jennings, whose leg was shattered.

Turrall dragged him to a shell hole, bandaging his leg with one of his puttees, using the halve of his entrenching tool as a splint. The pair were bombed from behind a hedge by a party of Germans, but Turrall shot two of them dead through a gap in the hedge and the others retired. Later in the day the Germans made an unsuccessful counter-attack on the village. By this time the officer had fainted, so Turrall shammed dead successfully, although the Germans prodded him with their bayonets as they passed.

At night he managed to make his way back to the trenches, carrying the wounded officer. Lt Jennings, who was very tall, had his arms round Turrall's neck and the sentry at first was on the point of shooting him for not putting up his hands. Fortunately Turrall was able to explain the situation in time.

Thomas Turrall was aged 30 when he won his VC. He died on February 21, 1964 in Birmingham. His VC is on display at the Regimental Museum in the City Art Gallery, Foregate Street, Worcester.