Lieutenant Colonel Bernard William Vann, VC
Bernard Vann, born in Rushden, 9th July 1887, was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the face of the enemy during World War I
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His parents were teachers in Rushden and he attended Cichele College School in Higham Ferrers. A keen footballer, he played for Northampton Town, Derby County and Leicester Fosse.
In 1907 he began studying at Jesus College, Cambridge where he also served in the Officers' Training Corps. After graduating, he taught for a while at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Grammar School before training for the Church of England priesthood. After curacies in Leicester he became Chaplain at Wellingborough School.
At the outbreak of the first World War he volunteered to be a military chaplain but eventually enlisted in the infantry and was commissioned into The Sherwood Foresters (The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment).
He displayed conspicuous gallantry on a number of occasions and was awarded the Military Cross with a bar. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, taking command of 1/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.
For his bravery in action on 29th September 1918 he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the only one of the First World War to be awarded to a cleric of the Church of England performing a combat role.
On 3rd October 1918 he was killed in action by a sniper.
Bernard Vann had married Doris Victoria Strange-Beck in 1917. After he died, she gave birth to their son.
On 29 September 2018, his grandsons unveiled a commemorative stone in Rushden. His grandson, Michael, unveiled a memorial plaque in the chapel at Wellingborough School on 10 November 2018.
Also in 2018, The Vann Fellowship was inaugurated at the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, to "recruit the best postdoctoral scholars from across the world, scholars with new expertise and fresh insights into the study of Christianity and the armed forces." Read more details »
Bernard Vann VC