An 85-year-old Korean War veteran awarded the Victoria Cross has attended a ceremony to open a soldiers’ accommodation block in his name.
The multi-million pound building at the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire is named after Sergeant William Speakman-Pitt.
Sgt Speakman-Pitt, from Altrincham, Cheshire, was the first person to be awarded the Victoria Cross by the Queen after fighting in Korea in 1951.
He attended the opening ceremony of the accommodation block at the garrison’s Vimy Barracks where a plaque was unveiled by Lieutenant General Andrew Graham, Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Friends and family of Royal Regiment of Scotland recruits, who will be housed in the block, also attended the ceremony, before a passing out parade.
Sgt Speakman-Pitt was a member of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers when he led a series of charges at United Hill during the Korean War, breaking up several enemy attacks. He was wounded in combat but enabled his company to withdraw safely.
His Victoria Cross was awarded by King George VI but Sgt Speakman-Pitt was invested by the Queen after the King’s death in 1952.
Speaking about being honoured with the new accommodation block, Sgt Speakman-Pitt said: “It’s fantastic, really. They deserve it. It’s wonderful.
“You’ve got all of your friends around you and you’ve got to work together. That’s where the training at a place like this comes in. These guys do a good job.”
Soldiers’ accommodation has improved since his time in the Army, Sgt Speakman-Pitt said.
“It’s one of those things that toughens you up along the way. You learn to take the rough with the smooth. You’ve just got to get out there and train these boys and learn how to take it. A bit of blood and sweat doesn’t do anybody any harm, especially when your life’s on the line.”
Sgt Speakman-Pitt wished good luck to all those who received awards in the latest round of military honours. “They deserve it,” he said.
Sgt Speakman-Pitt said he just did his job during the battle that led to his Victoria Cross. “We did what we were trained to do and that’s fight the enemy,” he said.