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Life of a Fulham War Hero Remembered

The life of Private Edward Dwyer, a local Catholic who became the recipient of a Victoria Cross for valour during the First World War, was remembered at the Fulham War Memorial in Vicarage Garden on 20 April. A service of commemoration and unveiling of a plaque in the Private’s honour was led by the Parish Priest of Fulham, Fr Dennis Touw, the Dean of Hammersmith and Fulham, Fr Richard Andrew, Canon Christopher Tuckwell who was representing the Cardinal and the Reverend Canon Joseph Hawes, the Anglican Vicar of Fulham.

Private Dwyer joined the Army aged 16 lying about his age to gain entry. In April 1915 he was involved in an action at Hill Sixty, Belgium, a key strategic location over which the Germans and British fought ferociously with a serious loss of life on both sides. On 20 April, surrounded by dead and wounded comrades, Private Dwyer was significantly outnumbered by German forces and alone in his trench but against all odds, he managed to repulse the attack with grenades. The Hill was only relinquished to the Germans after they used gas on the British soldiers. At the time of the action, Private Dwyer was just 19.

For this action he received the Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 15 June 1915. A modest man, when he later returned to Fulham while on leave, he kept his presence quiet, but was later discovered and made the centre of celebrations by the community. At the time he was the youngest recipient of the VC in the First World War. 

On his last leave home he left his medal in the care of Canon Browne of Holloway before returning to the front. He was killed in action on 3 September 1916 at Guillemont on the Somme. He is buried at Flatiron Copse cemetery.

His medal was presented to the regimental museum in 1962. Today his VC is displayed at the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment (Queens and Royal Hampshires) Museum in Dover Castle.

Also in attendance were Councillor Stephen Cowan, the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Councillor Mercy Umeh, Mayor of the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Wing Commander Mike Dudgeon, Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Chelsea Pensioners and representatives of the Armed Forces including Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, the latest recipient of the Victoria Cross for actions in Iraq in 2004. Students of St Thomas of Canterbury School where Private Dwyer was educated were also present.

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