Matt Rodda MP, has paid tribute to the Reading and Woodley men and women who served in the First World War, both on the frontline and in other roles, such as in munitions factories and supporting the war effort on the Home Front.
Speaking in a special debate in Parliament, Matt paid tribute to all those who served their country, including paying an additional tribute to people from Ireland and Commonwealth countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, the West Indies and Africa, as well as Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.
Matt also paid tribute to Trooper Frederick Potts from Reading who won a Victoria Cross and praised the magnificent memorial display in Woodley.
Matt said: “I pay tribute to all the men and women who served in our armed forces, as well as in other roles such as in the merchant navy and the munitions factories, and on the wider home front. Britain owes a huge debt of honour to the Commonwealth and to what was then the British empire.”
“It is important to remember the bravery and sacrifice not only of British forces, but of all those who served from Ireland, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Africa and the West Indies, as well as Australia, Canada, South Africa and other dominions such as New Zealand. Indeed, 1.5 million men served in the Indian army alone. Commonwealth and British empire forces were engaged on a wide range of fronts across the globe.”
“I would like to mention the story of Trooper Potts, who is the only person from Reading to have won a Victoria Cross. Frederick Potts, who came from the Katesgrove area of Reading, which I used to represent as a Councillor, was awarded a Victoria Cross for his outstanding bravery. He saved the life of an injured comrade by dragging him to safety from no-man’s land during extremely heavy fighting in the Gallipoli campaign.”
“Although injured in the thigh himself, Trooper Potts dragged his severely wounded comrade 600 yards on a trenching shovel. Fred Potts ultimately survived the great war, dying at the age of 50 in 1943. Arthur Andrews, whom he saved, lived until he was 89. This moving story reminds us again of the service and self-sacrifice of the first world war generation. It is just one of many incidents we remember today.”
“Woodley Town Council has put up an extremely moving display featuring some of the servicemen from what was then the village of Woodley. Woodley is now a large town with thousands and thousands of residents. Sadly, many of the small number of soldiers from that once village never returned. I thank the many clubs, charities, employers and other organisations who have helped to mark this important commemoration and the local historians who have taken part.”