Doncaster memorial tribute to Somme soldiers unveiled

30 June 2016...Veteran Steve Green with The new Somme memorial statue, at the VC Museum in Doncaster, of rifleman Willy Colman who was awarded a WWI Victoria Cross . Picture Scott Merrylees
30 June 2016...Veteran Steve Green with The new Somme memorial statue, at the VC Museum in Doncaster, of rifleman Willy Colman who was awarded a WWI Victoria Cross . Picture Scott Merrylees
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This is the memorial at a Doncaster museum which is to be a permanent reminder of the bloody Battle of the Somme.

The statue has been unveiled at the Victoria Cross Museum to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle, which is known as the bloodiest in the history of the British army.

Willam Harold Coltman VC, DCM and Bar, MM and Bar, the most highly-decorated British "other ranks" soldier of World War I.

Source: Wikimedia commons

Willam Harold Coltman VC, DCM and Bar, MM and Bar, the most highly-decorated British "other ranks" soldier of World War I. Source: Wikimedia commons

Related story: Somme anniversary: Two Doncaster heroes who died in WW1’s bloodiest battle

There were 20,000 soldiers killed on the first day alone, and a million soldiers in total died during the five months of the battle.

Now the memorial, surrounded by poppies at the museum on Cedar Road, Balby, has been unveiled to depict Victoria Cross hero William Coltman.

Victoria Cross Trust chairman Gary Stapleton said the monument was a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives at the Somme.

30 June 2016...The memoreial garden which contains  the memorial statue, at the VC Museum in Doncaster, of rifleman Willy Colman who was awarded a WWI Victoria Cross . Picture Scott Merrylees

30 June 2016...The memoreial garden which contains the memorial statue, at the VC Museum in Doncaster, of rifleman Willy Colman who was awarded a WWI Victoria Cross . Picture Scott Merrylees

He said: “We felt that the one VC who personified everyone was Willy Coltman, the most decorated soldier from the ranks in World War One.

“He went into the Battle of the Somme as an ordinary rifleman. He was trapped in a crater for much of the time and could hear the sound of the wounded and dying on the battlefield.

“It led him to become a stretcher bearer. He would go out in the greatest danger to help people wounded on the battlefield.

“We thought he represented everything about the Somme – those who died, those who survived, and those who had their own issues to deal with on their return.”

Sculptor Johanna Marshall was given the working title ‘After the Battle’s Over.’ Her work depicts Mr Coltman after the battle, with his Bible in his hand, reflecting on what had happened.

Doncaster will remember the battle with a Battle of the Somme Commemoration Service today, the 100th anniversary of the battle’s first day, at Doncaster Minster.

Doncaster Minster will be open from 9.30am until 3.30 pm showcasing displays from local history groups, schools and the Doncaster 1914-18 project.

Displays have been put together by Doncaster 1914-18, The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Museum, Hyde Park Cemetery, Doncaster Minster, Hatfield War Memorial Group, Bentley High Street Primary School, Balby Central Primary School, Carr Lodge Academy, South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum,and the Local Studies Library.