A Melton war historian who wanted a prestigious green plaque to be installed at a building which has a poignant significance with the town’s involvement in the First World War finally got his wish yesterday (Thursday).
Derek Simmonds nominated the Drill Hall for the honour because it was the headquarters for ‘A’ Squadron of the Leicestershire Yeomanry, who bravely fought and held the line at the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge in May 1915.
After four hours of bombardment and a further seven of fighting off infantry assaults, only 50 of the troops - who came from Melton, Rearsby, Harby and Rutland - were accounted for.
The following month, a draft of 206 troops paraded at the Drill Hall to replace the many men lost on that battlefield in Belgium, which was part of the infamous second battle of Ypres.
‘C’ Company 1/5th Leicestershire Territorials, which also suffered huge casualties during the Great War, were also billeted in the building.
Mr Simmonds said: “I think it is absolutely wonderful that the Drill Hall has been chosen to receive this prestigious award.
“The green plaque is a fitting tribute to all the people who left their jobs and families to fight for our country, creating a lasting legacy that will keep their memory alive for many years to come.”
Among the dignataries present were Vice-Lord Lt of Leicestershire, Col Murray Colville, and Col Robert Boyle, whose grandfather, Lt Col Evans-Freke, fell at Frezenberg.
Leicestershire County Council, which awards green plaques to people and places which have played an important part in the history of the county, was represented by chair, Ossie O’Shea, and Councillor Louise Richardson, cabinet member for the plaques.
Councillor Richardson said: “As the headquarters of the Melton and District Territorials, who answered the call of duty in August 1914, the Drill Hall has tremendous historical significance.
“It is great to see that, more than a hundred years on, there is still huge support from the people of Leicestershire.”
Today, the building, which was built in 1914, acts as the headquarters for the 1279 Squadron Melton Mowbray Air Cadets and the town’s army cadets.
Simon Worsley, deputy chief executive of East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, said: “I am delighted that the people of Leicestershire have
chosen to honour this building.
“Over 100 years ago, it saw young soldiers going off to war, and now it is home to the local cadet units.
“I hope it continues to be a valuable part of the community for many years to come.”
Pupils from The Grove Primary School, in Melton, also attended the unveiling to learn about the history of the Drill Hall and look at displays set up to show ‘C’ company and ‘A’ troop getting ready to leave for the Front in 1914.