Comber’s VC war hero remembered 100 years on

A memorial stone to Edmund De Wind VC was unveiled by his great nephew Josh De Wind and Mayor of Ards and North Down Robert Adair
A memorial stone to Edmund De Wind VC was unveiled by his great nephew Josh De Wind and Mayor of Ards and North Down Robert Adair

A memorial stone was dedicated to Comber war hero Edmund de Wind today, 100 years to the day after he received his Victoria Cross for gallantry during WWI.

His great nephew Josh De Wind – a professor of anthropology in the City University of New York – was guest of honour to unveil the commemorative stone plinth at a service in Comber Square.

Edmund De Wind was born in Comber but eventually emigrated to Canada where he joined the war effort

Edmund De Wind was born in Comber but eventually emigrated to Canada where he joined the war effort

Edmund De Wind received his VC for defending the Racecourse Redoubt at St Quentin against the spring offensive of the German Army in 1918.

The former Campbell College pupil dug in for seven hours and though twice wounded, he maintained his position practically single-handed. He continued to repel attack after attack until he was mortally wounded.

The Edmund De Wind VC 100 Committee has run a number of fundraising events and other talks and exhibitions in memory of the soldier over the past three years in the lead-up to the centenary of his VC award.

The committee is made up of Comber History Society, the local Orange Lodge, Comber Regeneration Community Partnership, the Royal British Legion and other interested parties.

A large crowd gathered for the unveiling of the memorial plinth to VC holder Edmund De Wind in Comber

A large crowd gathered for the unveiling of the memorial plinth to VC holder Edmund De Wind in Comber

Committee member Jim Hamilton, a former teacher at Campbell College, said: “Edmund De Wind was an extraordinary person whose sacrifice cannot be forgotten.

“It is important that young people can become familiar with his story. You have to be aware of your past so you can move forward.”

He added: “It was so nice to welcome Josh and his family to the event. Josh has his great uncle’s Victoria Cross in New York. This was his first time in Northern Ireland.

“He spoke at length of the affection between Northern Ireland and the United States through two world wars.

Edmund de Wind's great nephew Josh De Wind during the service in The Square Comber

Edmund de Wind's great nephew Josh De Wind during the service in The Square Comber

“He had always known about his family history but the relationship with the Comber centenary committee helped develop that and subsequent to that he is finishing off a book on Edmund De Wind.”

Edmund De Wind was born in Comber in 1883. He was educated at Campbell College and worked in the Bank of Ireland before moving to Canada in 1911.

In 1914, having already acquired some military experience, he signed up to the war effort with the Canadian Infantry.

The event in Comber was attended by military representatives from both NI and Canada as well as representatives from local political parties, churches and Campbell College.

A similar event took place today at Mount De Wind – named after the VC holder – in Alberta, Canada.