Video & Gallery: Town honours late war hero

PUBLISHED: 18:20 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 07:01 30 May 2010

Noel Mellish is celebrated

Noel Mellish is celebrated

STREETS came to a standstill and war veterans, town councillors and families stood up to celebrate the life of Dunmow s only holder of the Victoria Cross. The High Street was closed off to traffic on Thursday afternoon for a formal celebration in memory

People gather in the streets in memory of Noel Mellish

STREETS came to a standstill and war veterans, town councillors and families stood up to celebrate the life of Dunmow's only holder of the Victoria Cross.

The High Street was closed off to traffic on Thursday afternoon for a formal celebration in memory of Noel Mellish, who was vicar of Great Dunmow from 1928 until 1948.

Rev. Mellish was appointed to St Mary's church by the Bishop of Chelmsford on June 8, 1928, and he got straight down to business by visiting every house in the town, before settling into a routine which involved daily contact with a large number of his parishioners and constant visiting.

His successor in Great Dunmow, Rev. Canon David Ainge, led the service next to a bronze plaque positioned opposite the war memorial on the junction of New Street.

Addressing the gathered audience, some seated and some standing, he said how wonderful it was that the town could finally honour such a brave war hero. He said: "It is my honour to lead this ceremony and the sheer size of the audience is testament to what a hero the Rev. Mellish was. I'm glad the town centre now has something for us all to remember him by."

The Victoria Cross is the highest decoration and only awarded for incredible 'bravery in the face of the enemy', and was introduced in 1856 by Queen Victoria.

Mellish certainly deserved his after amazing bravery in St Eloi, Belgium during the First World War; an extract from the London Gazette on April 20 1916 reads:

"His majesty the king has been pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the Reverend Edward Noel Mellish, temporary chaplain to the forces, for most conspicuous bravery.

During heavy fighting on three consecutive days he repeatedly went backwards and forwards under continuous heavy shell and machine-gun fire, between our original trenches and those captured from the enemy, in order to tend and rescue wounded men"

In fact Mellish rescued 10 soldiers on the first day, and despite his battalion being relieved on the second day he still returned to rescue another 12, before once more returning on the night of the third to tend to the needy.

After enjoying his retirement in Somerset, Rev. Noel Mellish passed away peacefully aged 82, surrounded by his entire family. His daughter Claire Mellish unveiled the plaque at around 3.30pm. "We are all immensely proud of him," she said.

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