Parish to make “Peace Wood” in tribute to WWI hero

File:William Coltman.jpg

‘Peace Wood’ in tribute to a Burton war hero gets underway. The work is expected to start by next month.

The project in creating a woodland is spearheaded by the Winshill Parish. A one-acre site off Mill Hill Lane will be planted with oak and amber trees and will be adorned with a beach. The parish council has revealed that the project is dedicated to Burton war hero William Coltman. William Harold Coltman is an icon in Winshill and in the history of Britain. He was born in Rangemore but later on resided in Winshill. He served in the British army during the First World War.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military award for gallantry to be given to British and Commonwealth forces, without firing a shot.

L.-Corp. Coltman was assigned as a stretcher bearer in an operation at Mannequin Hill on October 3 and 4, 1918. During the firefight, several wounded soldiers were left behind. He proved his bravery and dedication to duty by rushing to the rescue of the wounded soldiers daring death amidst the volley of gun fires and bombardments. Coltman was reportedly on the critical site searching for his comrades and dressed their wounds. He went back and forth for three times carrying his wounded comrades away from the critical site. For 48 hours, he also tended to the wounds of other soldiers untiringly.

His remarkable story of dedication to duty also earned him the Military Medal and the Distinguished Conduct Medal for two occasions. He holds the record of being the most highly decorated non-commissioned officer who fought in the war.

The Burton Mail reports that the peace wood is expected to cost around £25,000. East Staffordshire Borough Council supports the Winshill parish in the project. 

“I think it’s a brilliant idea. It will be a wonderful asset to Winshill and a wonderful commemoration to all the people who died from here. The plans are up and running and the money is available. We are now ironing out one or two points but we don’t hang about,” Dennis Fletcher, Winshill parish councilor said.  Mr. Fletcher further revealed that the parish council decided to create a peace wood for Coltman because the soldier spent most of his life in the community.

“With the centenary anniversary coming up we wanted to do something to commemorate him and everyone else from Winshill who gave their lives. William Coltman was a man of peace. He did not handle a rifle but he was still the most decorated non-commissioned officer in the war,” Mr. Fletcher further added.

Aside from the peace wood, Winshill has already completed the first stage of the restoration of the war hero’s grave in St. Mark’s Church. Mr. Fletcher further revealed the proposed highlights of the peace wood including a path, seating, a bed of poppies and information boards of soldiers from Winshill. There are 94 men recorded to have served the army during the war who came from Winshill. The project aims to plant 94 trees for each of the war hero.  he parish council has also asked the relatives of soldiers who fought in the war to contact the council and give their suggestions, critic or approval to the proposed peace wood.

Mr. Fletcher announced that the parish council can be reached through the clerk of the parish council, Steve Taylor, at the number 01283 704178.

The parish council has also announced its meeting at 7:30 pm in the Winshill Neighborhood Resource Center in Canterbury Road on the fourth Thursday of the month.


Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE