Her father’s courage shone during all his life

The proud daughter of First World War hero Fred Greaves of north Derbyshire is preparing to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 13th July 2014, 10:00 am
Fred Greaves
Fred Greaves

Hazel Greaves, of Staveley, explained how her father received the Victoria Cross - Britain’s highest military honour - after he served with the 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.

She said: “I wish my dad was still here because he was a lovely man and I wouldn’t have changed him for anything.

“He was modest and if anyone asked him about the war he just used to say, ‘You don’t want to know’.”

Mr Greaves was awarded the VC after his platoon had been pinned down in 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele, in Belgium.

He rushed a German stronghold and bombed occupants to defeat the garrison and prevent heavier losses.

Mrs Greaves added: “During the war, my dad’s Sergeant sent him over the top to investigate something and two Germans saw him and they poked at him with their rifles and they would have shot him but his Sergeant managed to shoot them in time.

“Dad’s uniform was so badly damaged that when he went to collect his VC he travelled in normal clothes and when a woman saw him on the train she placed a white feather on his knee as a symbol of cowardice, but she could not have been more wrong. Dad was so modest he didn’t say anything and just smiled at her.”

The miner who fought at Gallipoli and The Somme was born in Killamarsh and lived in Barlborough and Duckmanton before he died in June 1973.

Following his death, Hazel and her late brother Cyril presented Fred’s VC to his regiment along with other service medals and a bravery honour he had earned for his part in a Markham Colliery disaster rescue over 70 years ago.

Spire Brewery, of Staveley, also produced an ale called Greaves VC to support a poppy campaign and local authorities arranged for a bench in Chesterfield to be dedicated to Mr Greaves.

Mrs Greaves, who has treasured replicas of her dad’s medals, planned to wear the honours during visits to Armed Forces Events at Poolsbrook, Barlborough and Killamarsh over the weekend. She is also looking forward to the cenetenary commemoration of the outbreak of World War One in August. Historian Raymond Griffiths, of Chesterfield, campaigned for a plaques to be fitted to benches in honour of Mr Greaves and VC recipient Sgt William Coffey, of Chesterfield, for his courage in the Crimean War.