Glasgow & West Scotland

'Hail of bullets' VC hero Pte Henry May honoured

Private Henry May Image copyright BBC - council handout
Image caption The paving stone in honour of Private May will be unveiled outside the People's Palace

A soldier who braved a hail of bullets to rescue wounded comrades during a World War One battle in France is being honoured in his home city of Glasgow.

Pte Henry May received the Victoria Cross (VC) - the highest award for gallantry - for actions at La Boutillerie on 22 October 1914.

A paving stone in his memory will be unveiled outside the People's Palace.

Stones are being laid in the home town of every UK soldier awarded the VC as part of World War One centenary events.

The paving stone in memory of Bridgeton soldier Pte May will be unveiled on Wednesday by the city's Depute Lord Provost Gerry Leonard.

He said: "Henry May is more than a local hero. He ranks among the very few men in the Great War who survived while carrying out the ultimate act of valour, risking his life to save the lives of comrades including a platoon commander.

"His bravery then a century ago was lauded and well documented by the media. He deserves our utmost respect and it will be a real honour to meet with his relatives who have been reunited thanks to the council's appeal for family to come forward to mark this important event."

Modest hero

Pte May was a reservist with The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) when he rescued two fellow soldiers while under heavy fire.

Afterwards he said: "I just did what any man in the regiment would have done to bring in a wounded man."

He received a hero's welcome on his arrival home at Glasgow Central Station when he was carried aloft by well wishers.

King George presented the VC to May on 12 August 1915.

He was discharged from the Army on 28 August that year, when his regular engagement of 13 years had expired.

Pte May rejoined in 1918 and attained the rank of lieutenant.

'Very proud'

After the war, he resumed his work in textiles in Bridgeton, where he had been born, and lived with his wife and children.

He is remembered in a series of granite paving slabs at Bridgeton Cross, inset with local VC holders' names.

The ceremony on Wednesday will be attended by his grandson and great-granddaughter, James and Jennifer McInnes, alongside lost cousins, including Eileen Brown, another grandchild of Henry May.

Jennifer McInnes said: "We are very proud of my great-grandfather Henry May's amazing courage and valour during the First World War.

"I hope his story will inspire other Glaswegians both at home and abroad to delve into their own family's war history.

"It's wonderful that the centenary of the start of the First World War has sparked so much interest in the stories of veterans and ordinary people."

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