Benjamin Geary Memorial Stone

As part of Lambeth Council’s programme to commemorate locally-born people awarded the Victoria Cross in WWI, on 21 April, exactly 100 years after he was wounded in action near Ypres, 2nd Lieutenant Benjamin Geary was honoured at a ceremony in Brockwell Park..

Benjamin had grown up nearby at 131 Palace Road, Tulse Hill, was educated at Dulwich College Preparatory School and St Edmund’s School, Canterbury before going to Keble College Oxford in 1910. He taught in Walthamstow until the outbreak of World War I, when he joined the East Surrey Regiment. His “most conspicuous bravery and determination...on April 20th and 21st, 1915” earned him the VC. The citation noted his “splendid gallantry and example” in the face of heavy artillery fire and repeated bomb attacks. “At one time he used a rifle with great effect, at another threw hand grenades, and exposed himself with entire disregard to danger....” Having been shot in the head and losing the sight in his left eye, he was evacuated to England and promoted to Lieutenant. He then worked on ground duties and returned to France with the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. Though medically he should not have resumed active duty, he commanded a company, and later that year was wounded again. He then emigrated to Canada and in World War II served with the rank of Major in the Canadian Army. He died in 1976.

The paving stone was unveiled by the Mayor of Lambeth and descendants of Benjamin Geary, with prayers by the Vicar of Holy Trinity Tulse Hill; the citation was read by General the Lord Dannant. Representatives of Lambeth Council, the East Surrey Regiment and others were present.

The memorial stone is just inside the park, to the left of the main gate. Lt. Geary is also commemorated on the Herne Hill Society’s WWI interactive map – http://www.hernehillsociety.org.uk/news_articles/view/ww1_map