City hero honoured 100 years after receiving Victoria Cross
PUBLISHED: 17:44 29 September 2018
Copyright: Archant 2018
One hundred years ago, a Norwich man showed immense courage in the face of heavy enemy machine gun fire on the battlefields of Belgium. It was an act which saw him awarded one of the highest military honours but ultimately lost him his life.
Now, a century later, a commemorative stone recognising Lance Corporal Ernest Seaman’s sacrifice has been unveiled at the city’s war memorial.
Ernest ‘Ernie’ Seaman was born at 9 Derby Street, North Heigham in 1893.
On September 29 1918, his battalion, the 2nd battalion of The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers where involved in heavy fighting in the north of the Menin Road near Terhand Belgium, on the Ypres salient.
Under heavy machine gun fire L/Cpl Seaman rushed forward single-handedly capturing two machine guns and twelve prisoners. Later on the same day and again under enemy fire, he captured another machine gun position but was killed during his efforts.
At a ceremony attended by members of L/Cpl Seaman’s family, members of the Royal Irish Regiment, Lord Lieutenant and The Lord Mayor councillor Martin Schmierer, Karen Hutchinson, Archdeacon of Norwich said: “None of us today have any personal memories of the First World War and yet it is essential that we don’t let slip into forgetfulness either the tragedy and slaughter or the actions of selfless heroism that we mark today.
“If we forget the sacrifice the courage of men such as Ernest, stones such as these, shout out remember. In this busy place each time you pass may you be reminded of all that is good, noble and heroic in life. And may we be reminded also of the need to work for justice and peace in our city and the world.”
Martin Goodrich, L/Cpl Seaman’s great nephew said: “We all heard stories of Uncle Ernie from our aunts and his memory has always been kept alive in our family. We are all very proud to see he will be given a permanent mark of remembrance in the city of Norwich.”
The third of three Norwich-born recipients of the Victoria Cross, L/Cpl Seaman’s stone sits alongside stones belonging to Cpl Sidney Day and Maj Wilfred Edwards who where awarded the VC for heroism in 1917.
L/Cpl Seaman’s VC Citation
“When the right flank of his company was held up by a nest of enemy machine guns, he, with great courage and initiative, rushed forward under heavy fire with his Lewis gun and engaged the position single-handed, capturing two machine guns and twelve prisoners and killing one officer and two men.
“Later in the day he again rushed another enemy machine gun position capturing the gun under heavy fire. He was killed immediately after. His courage and dash were beyond all praise, and it was entirely due to very gallant conduct that this company was enabled to push forward to its objective and capture many prisoners.”
L/Cpl Ernest Seaman VC is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium. HM King George V personally presented the Victoria Cross medal to his mother at Buckingham Palace on February 13 1919.