The graves of two First World War heroes are to be restored as part of centenary commemorations.

The Government has announced that the Yorkshire graves of 16 soldiers who received the Victoria Cross are to be cleaned and repaired.

They include that of Private Ernest Sykes, who is buried in Lockwood Cemetery, and Sgt John William Ormsby, at Dewsbury Cemetery.

Funds are raised by the Victoria Cross Trust for maintenance of the graves but now the Government has put up £100,000 so further work can be carried out before the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War later this year.

VC hero Sgt John William Ormsby
 

While some graves only require minor work, others have fallen into disrepair and many people remain unaware that soldiers bestowed with the highest military honour are buried in their communities.

Private Sykes, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, was 32 and serving in Arras, France, on April 19, 1917 when his battalion came under intense fire and suffered many casualties.

He repeatedly went back to save the lives of four wounded soldiers and returned a fifth time, risking almost certain death, and stayed until he had bandaged all those too badly injured to be moved.

Sgt Ormsby, 36, of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was awarded the Victoria Cross for leading his men into heavy machine gun fire at Fayet, France, on April 14 1917 to capture an important position.

When the company’s only surviving officer was wounded he took command.

Sgt Ormsby was born in Dewsbury in 1881 but his date of birth was wrongly listed as 1889 on his gravestone.

In 2011 the Friends of Dewsbury Cemetery had the headstone amended.

Announcing the special funding, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said Britain’s war heroes should never be forgotten.

The headstone in Dewsbury Cemetery marking Sgt Ormsby's grave
 

He added: “An entire generation of men fought for Britain’s freedom in the First World War and all fought valiantly.

“But for hundreds of those men their bravery was of such an exceptional nature they were bestowed with the highest military award, the Victoria Cross.

“As these men were honoured then for their extreme bravery on the battlefields, they should be honoured still.”

The Government announced last year that special paving stones would be installed at both graves on the 100th anniversary of their bravery in 2017.

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