A COMMEMORATIVE plaque will soon be placed to honour a First World War hero from Odiham.

The plaque will be for Manley Angell James, the son of a doctor, who was born at 140 The High Street, Odiham, in 1896.

Following the outbreak of war in 1914, he volunteered and was granted a Temporary Commission in the Gloucestershire Regiment. He was wounded three times during the war, first at the Battle of the Somme, again in 1917 by shrapnel, and subsequently slightly wounded as a Company Commander at the Battle of Messines where he captured an enemy position. He was awarded two Mentions in Dispatches and a Military Cross.

As a 22-year-old captain, he took part in the ferocious battles between Arras and La Fere during the German offensive in March 1918. At the time he was commanding A Company, 8th (Service) Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment. He was ordered to block an enemy advance to allow the withdrawal of friendly forces to new positions. For three days he conducted an aggressive defence before the company was outflanked and the thrice wounded Manley James captured. He was invested with the Victoria Cross (VC) in 1919 by King George V after returning from Germany, where he had been held as a prisoner of war.

After being discharged against his wishes, he gained a Regular Commission in the Army and was promoted to Brigadier in the Second World War, where he was awarded the DSO.

Simon Lloyd, chairman of the Odiham and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “He [Manley James] is a most extraordinary case. He continued to serve after being wounded three times. He was a formidable warrior.”

There is an Odiham Society Blue Plaque on the wall of the house, which is now called Queensmead, where the hero was born. He attended the Odiham Grammar School and Manley James Close off London Road was named after him.

As part of a national commemoration of those awarded the VC in the First World War, the government has provided an engraved paving slab to commemorate him. This will be placed on one of the wings of the memorial in the High Street.

This will be unveiled by Nigel Atkinson, the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, at 2.30pm on Friday, 22 June where a service of dedication will be conducted and a Bugler from The Rifles will participate. Members of the James family, who have recently visited the battle site, plan to attend.

The public can attend and should assemble on the service road behind the memorial before 2.30pm.