Bernard’s other VC: Vann Close
A STREET sign has been unveiled in Rushden – bearing the name of a local war hero.
The sign declaring ‘Vann Close’ was unveiled by the grandsons of Lt Col Bernard Vann, who was awarded the Victoria Cross ‘for most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and fine leadership’ in December 1918, shortly after being killed in battle.
Bernard was the fourth of five sons born to Alfred and Hannah Vann, who both taught at South End Elementary School in Rushden.
He worked first as a teacher, then, after going to Jesus College, Cambridge, he followed his uncle into the church and later became chaplain and assistant teacher at Wellingborough School.
When war broke out, he joined up as a private straight away. In 1915, he was awarded the Military Cross after the Battle of Loos – the same battle in which his brother was killed. After injuries and promotions, a daring raid on enemy trenches in 1916 resulted in him being given a bar to his MC. Just after Christmas that year, he married Canadian nurse Doris Beck; he was 27, she was 20. The following year, the French awarded him the Croix de Guerre with palm and a few months later he was promoted to acting Lieutenant Colonel.
Lt Col Vann won his posthumous Victoria Cross for bravery, devotion to duty and leadership during the attack at Bellenglise and Lehaucourt. Another newspaper report recorded his ‘prompt action and absolute contempt for danger’. He was killed by a sniper near Ramicourt. His son, Bernard Geoffrey Vann, was born the following June.
There are two grandsons – James, a retired doctor, and Michael, who lives in London.
In 2014, a local petition, led by Royal British Legion member Sue Homer and local history society member Jake Baker had called for a suitable memorial for the town hero, citing the possibility of a new school being built at the time to be named in his honour.
Pictured above – REMEMBERED: Bernard Vann, the brave infantryman who lost his life on a French battlefield in 1918.