A COMMEMORATIVE plaque honouring a brave Stourbridge-born war hero is to be unveiled at a ceremony in Mary Stevens Park next month.

Lye-born Lance Corporal Thomas Bryan, who experienced combat in the First World War, will be remembered at the unveiling which is due to take place at 2pm on Sunday April 9 - 100 years to the day since his extraordinary courage earned him the Victoria Cross.

Born in Bott Lane on January 21, 1882, Bryan moved from Lye with his family to Whitwood Mere, Castleford, West Yorkshire, as a child. His father was a coal miner and Bryan himself also went to work at Whitwood Colliery.

In 1903 he married Sarah Smart and later had five children. He was also a keen sportsman and played rugby league for Castleford in 1906-1907.

During the First World War, Bryan was sent to the Western Front on December 22, 1915, with the 25th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers.

The battalion moved to the Somme in April 1916 but Bryan was sent home to recover from a broken ankle. He returned to the front later that year and was promoted to lance corporal in March 1917. On the first day of the Battle of Arras, April 9 1917, the Fusiliers began to advance well but were held up by a German machine-gun which halted all movement.

Captain Huntley with L/Cpl Bryan set out to find it but Capt Huntley was killed by a sniper when he raised his head to use his binoculars so L/Cpl Bryan went on alone.

Although wounded, the gutsy 35-year-old managed to silence the machine gun that was causing carnage.

After working his way along the communication trench - he approached the gun from behind, disabled it and killed two of the team.

His bravery earned him the Victoria Cross which was presented by King George V in June 1917 in front of a crowd of 40,000 people at St James Park, Newcastle.

The official citation states he was awarded the UK’s highest honour for gallantry “for most conspicuous bravery during an attack”.

Having survived his heroics, Bryan died in Doncaster in 1945, aged 63, and he is buried in Arksey Cemetery, Doncaster.

His medals were later acquired by the Lord Ashcroft collection in 2000 and are currently on display at the Imperial War Museum.

The 100th anniversary commemoration, which will take place at the restored war memorial in the Norton park, will include a short service led by Reverend Simon Falshaw and will be attended by the Mayor of Dudley, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire Richard Lockett, High Sheriff Dr Keith Bradshaw DL, Victoria Cross recipient Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry and family of the soldier.

Lance Corporal Bryan’s memorial plaque will be the second of three to be installed across the borough. His will be located near to fellow Stourbridge-born VC winner Second Lieutenant Felix Baxter’s memorial which was unveiled on April 18, 1916, in the park.

A third memorial, to Private Thomas Barratt of Coseley, will be unveiled on July 27.