Brighton and Hove has paid its respects to one of its most-decorated First World War heroes.
More than 100 people gathered at the War Memorial in Brighton’s Old Steine yesterday afternoon for the unveiling of a commemorative stone to mark the “valour and honour” of Victoria Cross holder Captain Theodore Wright.
Schoolchildren and military veterans, dignitaries from council and church and members of the Brighton-born soldier’s own family gathered for the special occasion.
His family told The Argus after that the ceremony “exceeded all their expectations”.
Capt Wright was part of an expedition in Mons, Belgium, on August 23, 1914, equipped only with bicycles, a hand cart and insufficient explosives to destroy a series of bridges.
Already with shrapnel in his head as the expeditionary group were ordered to withdraw, Capt Wright relentlessly tried to connect the electrical cables of an explosive to destroy the main bridges under enemy fire.
Eventually he fell into the canal from exhaustion and was later rescued and awarded the VC for his bravery.
He was killed weeks later on September 14 while assisting wounded men to shelter at Vailly in France.
Capt Wright’s great niece Claire Hardwick-Wilson was among family members who laid wreaths during the ceremony.
She said: “As children growing up we used to hang from monkey bars like our great uncle did under that bridge but of course we didn’t understand the full meaning of it.”
Richard Cardinali’s grandfather Godfrey was Capt Wright’s brother and he was shot in action during the First World War.
Mr Cardinali, from Brighton, said: “My grandfather was very close to Theodore and he never spoke about the war at all.
“I think it is very sad that Theodore died so young. He could have found a girlfriend, got married and had a little family.”
Great niece Rebecca Mondadori, whose daughter Gaia read an adapted war poem in memory of her famous relative, said that Capt Wright’s VC medal was now safely stored in the Royal Engineers Museum in Kent.
She said: “Today has been absolutely fantastic, the ceremony meant a lot to us and it was fantastically well done beyond all our expectations.”
A Brighton and Hove bus bearing Capt Wright’s name was also unveiled yesterday.
History prefect and year 11 Dorothy Stringer High School pupil Lottie Jephson read to the gathered dignitaries during the ceremony.
Brighton and Hove mayor Brian Fitch, who led the ceremony, described Captain Wright as a “son of the city” and “a man of remarkable courage”.
He said the ceremony was a way of “remembering and honouring a brave and honourable man whose actions and valour were held in high regard”.