Stone laid in Portchester to mark bravery of man who received Victoria Cross

The service unveiling of a stone in Portchester Precinct in memory of Thomas Adair Butler, inset, who was awarded the Victoria Cross
The service unveiling of a stone in Portchester Precinct in memory of Thomas Adair Butler, inset, who was awarded the Victoria Cross
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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DESCENDANTS of a man who received the Victoria Cross for his bravery gathered as a memorial stone was unveiled in his honour.

A ceremony was held in Portchester Precinct to commemorate the unveiling of the stone to recognise Lieutenant Thomas Adair Butler.

After training at Gosport Military Academy, Lt Butler served in the 1st Bengal European Fusiliers and was awarded the VC for gallantry under fire during the Siege of Lucknow campaign in India on March 9, 1858, aged just 22.

The citation said he ‘swam across the river, climbed the parapet, remained in that position for a considerable time, under heavy fire of musketry, until the work was completed.’

Dignitaries, including Fareham MP Suella Fernandes, Fareham mayor and mayoress Mike and Anna Ford and county councillor Roger Price, attended the service.

The Portchester Society raised the money to fund the stone, along with a donation from Cllr Price’s devolved budget, after society member Derek Pearce discovered Thomas Adair Butler VC recorded in the 1881 census as living in Castle Street, Portchester.

After research, Mr Pearce found there had been no memorial ever built for Lt Butler, so the society set about planning to install one.

Mr Pearce said: ‘It’s a proud moment. To think otherwise he would never have had a mention and now he has a stone to remember him by.’

Lt Butler was born in Soberton in 1836, in the same house where members of the Butler family still live today, such as Joanna Butler, 85, who was the at the service.

She said: ‘It’s lovely to see.’

Mrs Butler was with her three children – Mark, 56, Hannah, 51, and Charles, 58, plus Charles’ wife Marishelle.

Mark, who now lives in Shaftesbury, said: ‘It is fantastic.

‘The fact that other people are interested in our family’s story makes it very special.’

Also at the ceremony were Robin Thistlethwayte and his wife Mary, who are also related to Lt Butler.