VC hero will be honoured

NEWS. FOR STORY BY RUSS NEWTON AND TO ACCOMPANY OTHER PIC NAMED VICTOR..1/10/2001.''Victoria Cross winner Corporal John Harper, who was killed in action in World War 2.
NEWS. FOR STORY BY RUSS NEWTON AND TO ACCOMPANY OTHER PIC NAMED VICTOR..1/10/2001.''Victoria Cross winner Corporal John Harper, who was killed in action in World War 2.

The only Doncaster-born holder of the Victoria Cross is to be honoured with the opening of a new building in his memory.

Corporal John William Harper died in battle during World War Two and was posthumously awarded Britain’s highest military honour for his bravery.

Now his name will live on at a school in his home village of Hatfield, when a new sixth form building is opened next week by members of his family and also former comrades.

The Harper Building at Ash Hill Academy will pay tribute to Cpl Harper who died in September 1944 as he fought to liberate the Belgian town of Merksplas near the Dutch border from Nazi occupation.

School spokesman Glenn Blackett said: “We thought it was fitting that the name of Corporal Harper should live on at the school.”

Cpl Harper, married to Lily, died on September 29, 1944, as he and his fellow British troops battled to seize the Depot de Mendicitie near Antwerp from enemy hands, dashing back and forth against a hail of gunfire to seize military posts and prisoners.

The soldier was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour and buried at the nearby Leopoldsburg war cemetery and family relative Gordon Harper has ensured the Harper story lives on by arranging a series of memorials both in Belgium and Hatfield.

Gordon said: “John’s story is an amazing one, one that should be preserved and told to future generations. Acts of bravery like his should not go unnoticed and forgotten and that’s why we are keeping his memory alive.”

Hatfield Town Council has already established a memorial in Hatfield Woodhouse cemetery while his medal is now on show at the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment Museum in Rotherham.

The unveiling of the new building at Ash Hill will take place next Wednesday.