Family to honour Somme VC hero

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A special ceremony to mark the Somme heroics of Lieutenant Geoffrey Shillington-Cather VC is being held in Portadown town centre on Tuesday at 5pm.

Three descendants on the Shillington side of the family will lay a wreath at the memorial to the Lieutenant, at the town’s War Memorial.

It was unveiled on Friday, July 1, the 100th anniversary of the start of the horrific Battle of the Somme.

He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, one of four VCs in the heat of the battle.

The award was the result of going into ‘No Man’s Land’ and rescuing a number of Royal Irish Fusiliers (RIF) colleagues who lay helplessly wounded.

Sadly, he was shot dead by the Germans during what turned out to be his final rescue attempt.

Tuesday’s ceremony will be all the more poignant in that descendants of one of the soldiers he rescued - Private Sam Neill of Cordrain, Tandragee - will attend.

They owe their very existence to Lieutenant Shillington-Cather, as Sam survived the war and returned home to raise a family.

His grave is in Mullavilly Churchyard.

The Shillington family will be represented by Anthony Shillington (England) his sister Eve Parkhill (Bangor) and cousin Kim Wheeler (England).

Others at the event will include Caroline Corvan, Curator of the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum in Armagh, Major Philip Morrison, President of the Portadown Royal British Legion Branch (RBL), as well as officers and members of the branch, and Colonel Arthur Reid of Tandragee Royal British Legion.

The Shillingtons have requested that a representative of the Portadown Times is among the guests, following the feature the newspaper carried on the unveiling of the memorial.

A copy was sent to them by retired studio photographer Jim Lyttle – who keeps in touch with many Portadown ‘exiles’ – and he, too, will attend the ceremony.

A full report will be carried in next week’s Portadown Times.

For more information on Lieutenant Geoffrey Shillington-Cather VC and to read his Victoria Cross citation go to: www.royal-irish.com/persons/geoffrey-cather-vc