A CEREMONY to honour Cardiff’s first Victoria Cross recipient featured a surprise guest – the soldier’s surviving nephew.
Guests at the service of remembrance for Company Sergeant Major Frederick Barter were surprised when family members unexpectedly arrived for the ceremony at Cathays Cemetery.
The First World War hero’s nephew, Dennis Donovan, 86, didn’t know the service was happening until the morning of the event.
He said: “We knew nothing about it to be perfectly honest, we were lying in bed and heard it on the news. It’s nice he is remembered, to us uncle Fred was a hero obviously, so we’re very pleased indeed.”
The Lord Mayor, members of the friends of Cathays cemetery and captain Nathan Chronik, representing the Royal Welsh, gathered for the service of remembrance. Children from Allensbank Primary School and Ysgol Mynydd Bychan read a roll of honour.
A council spokesman said: “Our efforts to trace members of Frederick Barter’s family via the Victoria Cross Society were ultimately fruitless so it was a really nice surprise that we were able to welcome some of his relatives to the unveiling of this plaque in his honour.”
Although rejected by the army at first because of his slight build, Frederick Barter was decorated 100 years ago for “most conspicuous bravery and marked ability” at the Battle of Festubert on 16th May 1915.
After capturing the first line of German trenches during the battle, 24-year-old Frederick Barter gathered a group of eight volunteers and pushed forward, attacking German positions with grenades and bombs and eventually capturing three German officers, 102 men and 500 yards of enemy territory.
The young Royal Welsh Fusilier then found and cut the cables on 11 enemy mines left behind for the advancing British soldiers which could have caused many casualties.
Frederick Barter was born at 60 Daniel Street in Cathays on 17 January 1891, he went to Crwys Road Board School and joined the army in 1908. After finishing his national service he worked as a collier and stove repairer but was recalled to the army in August 1914.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace by King George V on July 12th 1915. He went on to win the Cross of Saint George and the Military Cross in 1918.
Mr Donovan, who was born in the same house on Daniel street, remembers his uncle Fred well, he said: “He was a small man, very quiet but a gentleman. Very nicely spoken but he never came out with what he was, if you know what I mean–if you met him you’d just say he was a nice chap.”