Penge soldier honoured with a commemorative stone on the centenary of his death
PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 April 2018
A soldier from Penge who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross has been honoured with a commemorative stone, unveiled last week.
On the centenary of his death on March 22 1918, Private Herbert George Columbine of 9th Squadron, Machine Gun Corps was recognised in a ceremony at Penge War Memorial, where a commemorative stone was unveiled by Mayor of Bromley, cllr Kathy Bance MBE.
It is expected that by November, all 628 Victoria Cross recipients of the First World War will have been commemorated.
A wreath was laid in Private Columbine’s honour by the council leader, cllr Colin Smith.
The ceremony, which was administered by Reverend Nigel Poole from St John’s Church, was also attended by other dignitaries including the Colonel Sam Plant, Headquarters London District, deputy mayor, cllr Kevin Brooks, cllr Peter Fookes, as well as representatives from the Machine Gun Corps and pupils from the nearby St John’s CE Primary School.
Cllr Colin Smith said: “It was an absolute honour to represent the borough and attend the ceremony in support of the Mayor in her duties.
No-one present could fail to have been moved by such a poignant ceremony and I am deeply humbled.
“We all owe the many courageous individuals that fought for our country a huge debt of gratitude, and this stone acts as permanent reminder to ensure we never ever forget.
“‘Save yourselves, I’ll carry on’ was said to have been the last words of Private Columbine to his two companions at Hervilly Woods, France.
“The two remaining men were ordered to get away while Private Columbine continued firing the machine gun he’d taken command of inflicting losses, until he was killed by a bomb.
“He was 24 years old.”
Emma Columbine, his mother, was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on June 22 1918, exactly three months after he died and only eight months before the end of the war.
The Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military honour, was introduced by Queen Victoria 1856 to honour acts of bravery in the Crimean War.