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Birthplace robs Rex of memorial

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: October 10, 2013

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A VC HERO from Devon is in danger of being missed out from a commemoration of the centenary of the First World War – because he was born in India.

Reginald "Reckless Rex" Warneford, 23, was the first British airman to destroy a Zeppelin airship.

As a pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service, Sub-Lieut Warneford attacked the airship by throwing bombs from the cockpit of his plane, landed to carry out engine repairs behind enemy lines and took off, escaping capture.

Pilot Warneford, who lived in Morton Road, Exmouth, was awarded the Victoria Cross by the King but was killed in a flying accident 10 days later.

As part of the centenary, special paving stones are being laid in the birthplaces of VC heroes.

But, as Warneford was born abroad, Exmouth's stone will only bear the name of its other VC winner Lieutenant Richard Sandford, who was 27 when he took charge of a mission to ram a viaduct in the path of German U-boats with a mini-sub on St George's Day 1918.

He managed to escape and died of typhoid shortly after the mission.

Warneford is already remembered in Exmouth with a plaque at the town hall – an earlier plague was melted for its metal during the Second World War.

Lionel Howell, who helped organise the 1999 plaque replacement, said: "It's disgusting to even think about leaving Rex out.

"He fought for his country; it shouldn't matter where he was born. If they are going to leave Rex out, they should scrub the whole thing."

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