Town’s only VC hero honoured

Richard Burton, who was awarded the VC, is given a victory parade in Burton Street after the war
Richard Burton, who was awarded the VC, is given a victory parade in Burton Street after the war
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MELTON’S only Victoria Cross will go on display in a special £5 million exhibition in London.

Richard Burton, who died in 1993, received the highest award for bravery in 1944 for ‘outstanding gallantry’ in the Italian campaign.

His brother David was recently contacted by the Imperial War Museum to find original copies of photographs so they can go in the Extraordinary Heroes exhibition in a specially built wing.

David, who grew up in Melton but lives in Leicester, said: “The idea is to put a few photos of Dick in a digital display alongside his medal.

“A few of us will be going down to London for the official opening and will meet the Queen.

“Dick was treated as a real hero when he came home. There were parades through the town and he was invited to all kinds of events.”

Richard was a bricklayer at Denman’s before being called up to the Duke of Wellington Regiment.

He was injured in north Africa before taking part in the Anzio landings in Italy.

His regiment was involved in the tough fighting as the Allies headed north up the peninsula through appalling conditions.

He was awarded the VC for his actions at Monte Ceco, north of Florence.

According to his citation, two platoons were attempting to take a strategically important but strongly held feature 160 metres high.

It adds: “Through the assault the crest from which four spandaus (machine guns) at least were firing, Pte Burton rushed forward and engaging the first spandau with his tommy gun killed the crew of three.

“When the assault was held up under the murderous fire from two more machine guns Pte Burton, with complete disregard for his own safety, dashed forward using his tommy gun until his ammunition was exhausted.”

But he didn’t stop there as he picked up a bren gun and ‘firing from the hip’ fought off the remaining crew in the machine gun nest securing the route for his company.

He then led the charge when the Germans counter-attacked and held them off with his ‘accurate fire’.

In a letter home he wrote: “I think I’m in for some sort of medal. The sergeant with me received the DSM and three MM’s were distributed at the same time. They tell me mine ought to be the VC but I don’t know about that. Anyway, I have paid the Bosche back for my wounds.”

Richard’s medal was bought by Lord Ashcroft who has more than 160 VCs making it the world’s largest collection.

He has paid for the new permanent gallery space at the Imperial War Museum which will house his collection alongside the 48 VCs owned by the museum and another 31 George Crosses. It opens on November 12.

l If anyone has copies of these pictures or others of Richard, contact the Melton Times. Details page 2.