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North Yorkshire: Catterick Garrison block named after Korean War veteran

Sergeant William Speakman-Pitt holder of the the Victoria Cross medal awarded after the Korean War is shown a plaque by Lieutenant Colonel Peter Stitt as an accommodation barracks is named after him at Catterick Garrison. PIC: PA

Sergeant William Speakman-Pitt holder of the the Victoria Cross medal awarded after the Korean War is shown a plaque by Lieutenant Colonel Peter Stitt as an accommodation barracks is named after him at Catterick Garrison. PIC: PA

An 85-year-old Korean War veteran awarded the Victoria Cross has attended a ceremony to open a soldiers’ accommodation block in his name.

The multi-million pound building at the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire is named after Sergeant William Speakman-Pitt.

Sgt Speakman-Pitt, from Altrincham, Cheshire, is the first person to be awarded the Victoria Cross by the Queen after fighting in Korea in 1951.

He attended the opening ceremony of the accommodation block at the garrison’s Vimy Barracks where a plaque was unveiled by Lieutenant General Andrew Graham, Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Friends and family of Royal Regiment of Scotland recruits, who will be housed in the block, also attended the ceremony, before a passing out parade.

Sgt Speakman was a member of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers when he led a series of charges at United Hill during the Korean War, breaking up several enemy attacks. He was wounded during the attack but enabled his company to withdraw safely.

His Victoria Cross was made by King George VI but was the first to be invested by the Queen.

Speaking about being honoured with the new accommodation block, Sgt Speakman said: “It’s fantastic really. They deserve it. It’s wonderful.

“You’ve got all of your friends around you and you’ve got to work together. That’s where the training at a place like this comes in. These guys do a good job.”

Soldiers’ accommodation has improved since his time in the Army, Sgt Speakman said.

“It’s one of those things that toughens you up along the way. You learn to take the rough with the smooth. You’ve just got to get out there and train these boys and learn how to take it. A bit of blood and sweat doesn’t do anybody any harm, especially when your life’s on the line, and that’s the truth.”

Sgt Speakman wished good luck to all those who received awards in the latest round of military honours.

“Good luck to them. They deserve it,” he said.

Sgt Speakman said he always wanted to be a soldier and that he just did his job during the battle that led to his Victoria Cross.

“We just did what we had to do and did what we were trained to do. We fought and we held our hills along with the other regiments. And we did what we were trained to do and that’s fight the enemy. That’s what it’s all about, that’s all there is to it. We’re put there to do a job and we do it to the best of our ability,” he said.

 

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