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History behind some Street Names within the Barracks at Nuneaton

By SPP Reporter

William Beesley Crescent

William Beesley VC (5 October 1895 – 23 September 1966) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Beesley was 22 years old, and a private in the 13th battalion, The Rie Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own), British Army during the First World war when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 8 May 1918 Bucquoy, France, when Private Beesley’s platoon sergeant and all the section commanders were killed he took command. Single –handed he rushed a post, shot four of the enemy, took 6 prisoners and sent them back to his lines. He and a comrade then brought his Lewis gun into action, inicting many casualties and holding their position for four hours until the second private was wounded. Private Beesley, by himself, maintained his position until nightfall, when he returned to the original line with the wounded man and the Lewis gun which he kept in action until things had quietened down.

He later achieved the rank of Sergeant.

Served in the – The Rie Brigade, Kings Royal Rie Corps, Royal Artillery

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Green Jackets Museum in Winchester, England and he is buried inSt Pauls Cemetery, Coventry

Cecil Leonard Knox

Cecil Leonard Knox was born in Nuneaton on 9 May 1889. At the age of 29 years old, and a temporary second lieutenant in the 150th Field Company, Corps of Royal Engineers, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 22 March 1918 at Tugny, Aisne, France, Second Lieutenant Knox was entrusted with the demolition of 12 bridges. He successfully carried out this task, but in the case of one steel girder bridge the time fuse failed to act, and without hesitation he ran to the bridge under heavy re, and when the enemy were actually on it, he tore away at the time fuse and lit the instantaneous fuse, to do which he had to get under the bridge. As a practical civil engineer, Second Lieutenant Knox realised the grave risk he took in doing this.

Between the wars he joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and suffered from a serious parachute accident. He joined the Home Guard at the beginning of World War II and achieved the rank of Major. He died as a result of a motoring accident in 1943.

He is buried in Gilroes Crematorium, Leicester.

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