20 March 2018

Memorial stone unveiled for World War One hero

A commemorative stone was unveiled at the Old Steine War Memorial in Brighton on 16 March to honour World War One hero Second Lieutenant Ernest Beal VC.

Ernest, who was born and brought up in Brighton, was awarded the Victoria Cross after being killed in action in March 1918

His great nephew, Martin Greenwood, and his fiancee’s great niece, Val Bundy, were among those who gathered at the war memorial to see the stone unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field.

Others attending the ceremony included the mayor Councillor Mo Marsh, the High Sheriff of East Sussex Maureen Chowen, representatives of the Sussex Yeomanry, Royal Sussex Regiment, Yorkshire Regiment, The Green Howards, Royal British Legion and the Boy’s Brigade, plus the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas. The ceremony was organised by the city council.

Ernest was born in 1883 and attended Brighton Grammar School before working at Beal’s, the family stationery business in East Street. He enlisted in the Sussex Yeomanry at the outbreak of war and went on to join the 16th Royal Sussex Regiment and the 3rd Yorkshire Regiment, serving at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

He was awarded the posthumous VC for conspicuous bravery on 22 March 1918 at St Leger. Later the same day he died from wounds suffered when saving the life of one of his men under fire.

As part of the commemorations a blue plaque was unveiled by the mayor at Ernest’s birthplace at 148 Lewes Road in a ceremony organised by the Brighton & Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel.

A portrait of Ernest is on show at Brighton Museum as part of the museum’s 1918-2018: 100 years Remembrance Season. 

The Victoria Cross commemorative stone is part of a national scheme that will see every VC recipient of WW1 commemorated with a stone.