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Published 10th May 2017

Tom Dresser, VC hero

A true Teesside hero is honoured this week with the unveiling of a new statue.

The ceremony on Friday (May 12) will mark the centenary of Tom Dresser winning the Victoria Cross during the First World War in 1917.

The move follows a year-long fundraising campaign, with the effigy cast in bronze and located in the gardens of the Dorman Museum off Linthorpe Road.

The statue was sculptured by Brian Alabaster whose depiction of another Teesside VC hero - World War Two Green Howard Stan Hollis - stands nearby.

The unveiling and blessing will be carried out by Canon John Lumley in the presence of Private Dresser’s son Tom and his two grandsons, Brian and Paul Dresser.

Addresses will be given by Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor Councillor Charlie Rooney and Brian Dresser, and a citation will be read by Major Roger Chapman MBE.

Colonel Clive Mantell will speak on behalf of the Green Howards, Private Dresser’s regiment which now forms part of the recently formed Yorkshire regiment

Canon Richard Cooper will also bless a centenary stone to mark the 100 years since King George V awarded the VC to Private Dresser.

Tom Dresser moved to Middlesbrough from York as a child and attended St John’s and Hugh Bell High School, going on to work at Dorman Long’s Dock Street Foundry before signing up when war broke out.

In May, 1917 he was serving as a private in the 7th Battalion The Green Howards in the Battle of Arras in northern France, when the call went up for a volunteer for a hazardous mission.

The Green Howards had won a strategically important trench but were pinned down by heavy gunfire and running short of ammunition – and a man was needed for the seemingly impossible task to get word back to Battalion Headquarters.

Private Dresser, 24, stepped up and after reaching HQ set off back to the frontline with two other soldiers carrying orders from HQ and sacks of bombs.

Despite being shot twice he made it back across no-man’s land, crawling the last 50 yards.

He was subsequently evacuated to Wrexham Hospital for treatment and on July 21, with his arm still in a sling, he was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace for ‘conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty’.

Private Dresser returned to Dorman Long after the war before taking over the family’s newsagent business, running the shop on Marton Road for 40 years, with his precious medal in a tobacco tin behind the counter.

He died in 1982 at the age of 90 and is buried with his wife Theresa in Thorntree Cemetery.

Tom’s grandson Brian said: “His courage and single-minded determination to deliver a vital message at all costs proved of the greatest value to his battalion at a critical period of the battle.

“He never sought recognition for his bravery, but I think he would have been proud to have been honoured in this way

“I’m grateful to everyone whose contributions and hard work have made it possible to pay tribute to a true hero in this way.”

Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor Cllr Charlie Rooney said: “It is particularly fitting that this fine statue of Tom Dresser should be unveiled exactly 100 years after he won the highest military honour.

“It is a moving tribute to a man whose selfless and modest heroism helped to save lives and remains an example to this day.”



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