Published: Monday, 10th April 2017
Residents of Drayton gathered with local civic and military figures on Sunday 9 April to honour local First World War veteran and Victoria Cross recipient, Captain Harry Cator, 100 years since he committed the actions which led to him being awarded the prestigious medal.
The ceremony, hosted by Drayton Parish Council and Broadland District Council, was part of nationwide scheme by the Department for Communities and Local Government which will see a commemorative paving stone laid in the birthplace of every VC recipient of the First World War.
On 9 April 1917, whilst under heavy machine gun fire in the French town of Arras, the then Sergeant Cator made his way to the enemy trench with a companion who was killed almost immediately. Sergeant Cator succeeded in approaching the enemy and killed the machine gun team, allowing him to hold the trench until support could reach him. His actions led to the capture of enemy soldiers and further machine guns.
Following the war, Harry Cator returned to Norfolk, settling in Sprowston. He served as a captain in the Home Guard during the Second World War. He died in 1966, aged 72, and was laid to rest in Sprowston cemetery.
More than 200 people gathered at the service of reflection at St Margaret’s Church in Drayton which was followed by a ceremonial unveiling of a commemorative stone in the Florence Carter Memorial Park, adjacent to the church.
Captain Cator’s three grandchildren, who no longer live in Norfolk, were invited to the ceremony and enjoyed the weekend learning about their grandfather’s birth parish.
Speaking after Sunday’s ceremony, Captain Cator’s granddaughter Roseanne Liversidge, said:
“The day was most exciting. We felt very honoured that everyone had put so much effort in to making this such a special day.”
Cllr Graham Everett, Chairman of Drayton Parish Council said:
“It was a historic day for Drayton. I feel very honoured and privileged that I was able to be part of the ceremony and that we were joined by so many people. Thank you to all who attended for making the day so memorable.”
Phil Kirby, Chief Executive of Broadland District Council said:
“It is important that Harry Cator lives on in our local history and he, along with all others who have served in the military, is remembered in our community. The commemorative stone will allow local people to pay tribute to Captain Cator’s actions for years to come.”
A special exhibition by children from Drayton Junior School was also on display at Drayton Village Hall. The exhibition presented work about Captain Cator and the First World War and was viewed by guests to the ceremony.