Battersea Council to recognise WW1 VC winners in new social housing development

Several new housing developments in Battersea are to be named after local First World War soldiers who were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Haine Court, Lascelles House and Edward Foster Court are being built on the Patmore and Savona housing estates, which will provide 57 new high quality council homes to rent. The new homes, which are expected to be completed in mid-2018 are named after three soldiers of the 1914-18 conflict, born within present-day borough boundaries, who received the Victoria Cross – the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

Cllr Clare Salier, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “These servicemen fought with extraordinary courage, and it is only right that a century on we continue as a borough to honour them and to commemorate their heroism. I am proud that we are able to do so through the provision of new council homes, and that the names of these bravest sons of Wandsworth live on in serving their community.”

Cpl Edward Foster lived in Tooting and was a council dustman before joining 13th Battalion The East Surrey Regiment, a ‘pals battalion’ raised by the Mayor of Wandsworth in 1915. On 24 April, 1917, the 31-year-old was engaged in fighting near the French village of Villers-Plouich. The battalion was held up by a German trench position strengthened with barbed wire and a machine gun. Cpl Foster stormed the trench but during hand to hand fighting he lost his gun and used grenades to dislodge the enemy. He recovered his gun then used it to knock out the machine gun position. As well as the Victoria Cross, he was awarded the Médaille Militaire, France’s third highest decoration for bravery. Cpl Foster survived the war and lived in Tooting until his death in 1946.

Reginald Leonard Haine's family lived in Wilna Road, Earlsfield, when he was born. 2nd Lt Haine was serving in the Honourable Artillery Company near Gavrelle in northern France, and on 28 and 29 April, 1917, his position came under fire from a larger German force. The young officer led six counter-attacks that seized key positions along with 50 prisoners and two machine guns which he defended until the morning when he took the initiative again and recaptured lost ground. He had led his men with exceptional courage for 30 hours of continuous fighting. 2nd Lt Haine survived the war and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Army, receiving a Military Cross for action on the North West Frontier in 1919, and in the Second World War he commanded a Home Guard battalion. He died in 1982. 

Arthur Moore Lascelles was born on 12 October, 1880, at Wilby Lodge, Nightingale Lane, Balham, although his birth was registered in Streatham. He was an acting captain in 3rd Battalion Durham Light Infantry when his position at Masnieres in France came under heavy bombardment on 3 December, 1917. Despite being wounded by shrapnel Capt Lascelles encouraged his men and organised his unit’s defence until the attack was repulsed. Continued heavy fire eventually overran his position, prompting Capt Lascelles to mount a desperate counter-attack which, against all odds, drove back the enemy. He was killed in action less than a year later at Fontaine-au–Bois on November 7, 1918, just days before the Armistice was signed.

Memorial stones were laid in Wandsworth Town Hall’s garden of remembrance in honour of all three, during a ceremony held in April, 2017.