George Maling received the Victoria Cross (VC) medal a hundred years ago to the day this Friday (25 September) for his bravery during the First World War. He was the only Sunderland born soldier to receive this honour during the First World War.
He was awarded his medal for the tremendous bravery he displayed serving in the Royal Medical Corps, where under heavy shell fire he saved the lives of more than 300 people during the Battle of Loos.
Civic commemoration of his heroism began last month with the installation of a ‘Blue Plaque’ at his birthplace, Carlton House in Mowbray Road. It will culminate with the laying of a memorial paving stone at the cenotaph in Burdon Road tomorrow (Friday 25 March) at 10 – 10.30am.
The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Barry Curran, and his civic guests will then invite George Maling’s grandson Dr David Maling and his wife Jenny to join them for refreshments in the Jack Crawford Room at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden.
Here they will also be asked to ‘cut the cake’ celebrating the occasion.
Friday’s commemoration is followed by a weekend of themed events and activities in Mowbray Park and the Museum and Winter Gardens.
The installation of blue plaque and weekend programme of events and activities has been supported by Sunderland City Council’s East Area Committee who represent this part of the city, in recognition of one its most famous former residents.
George Maling was born in Sunderland in 1888 the son of a general practitioner, and was part of the Maling pottery. Members of family, his grandson David and his wife Jenny, will travel from their home in Cornwall to join the Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Barry Curran and his civic guests to unveil the stone bearing his name at its permanent home at the base of the city’s war memorial in Burdon Road.
The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Barry Curran said: “I am honoured to represent the people of our city at this civic commemoration of one of our bravest citizens, and hope that everyone will come along to join us and support this event.
“The presence of his family will make the occasion even more special, and I am looking forward to meeting and welcoming them back to Sunderland to be involved in the ceremony to create a permanent reminder of the bravery of George Maling VC.
“We’ll be joined by guests including Julie Elliot MP, representatives from the military and veteran’s groups and many of my City Council colleagues with music provided by Sunderland High School. The ‘Last Post’ will also be sounded by buglers before an one minute’s silence to commemorate the bravery of George Maling VC, and the many other people from our city who have served this country with such distinction in its hour of need.”
The commemorative paving stone is one of a number commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government, provided to communities across the country as a permanent, structural reminder of the bravery of its citizens who were awarded the VC during the First World War whilst serving their country.
Friday’s commemorative event at the war memorial 10-10.30am which is open for all to attend, is followed by weekend of events and activities supported by Sunderland City Council’s East Area Committee including;
Saturday 26 September
– Sunderland and the First World War city centre guided walk 10am (meet at Wear Street car park);
- A free guided walk through the city centre learning more about the sites most affected by the First World War including George Maling’s childhood home
– Maling Trail and activities 11am –1pm, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens;
- Visitors can follow a special trail and take part in craft activities to find out more about George Maling and his family, with ’Show and Tell’ sessions with the Time Bandits’ revealing more about First World War medical equipment and the treatment available to the many casualties suffered in the field
– Illustrated talk by John Sadler – ‘ Most Unsuitable Ground – the Battle of Loos 1915 ‘1.30pm, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens;
- An illustrated talk on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Loos describing the heroism and sacrifice of all those involved in the British Expeditionary Force attempt to break the deadlock on the Western Front
Sunday 27 September
– Cpt. George Maling VC ‘Strong for war, for helping tender ‘ 3 -5pm, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens / Mowbray Park;
- Award winning theatre company Theatre Space NE present an open air performance suitable for all ages, including a specially commissioned play written by James Whitman and mural painted by street artist Frank Styles
– George Maling Football Festival 10am – 3pm, Raich Carter Sports Centre;
- A football festival in honour of George Maling VC who lived in the local community, with football activities and mini—tournaments for all ages with trophies and medals for participants/winners
Chair of the East Area Committee, Councillor Ellen Bell (Ward Member for Ryhope) said: “We wanted to help commemorate the bravery of one of our most famous residents George Maling VC, by supporting a programme of events and activities telling his story and celebrating his life.
“His story is one to inspire present and future generations in the city and the community where he was born and bought up, and I hope everyone will join us with their families and friends on Friday and over the weekend to get involved in paying tribute to his memory in a number of ways.”