THE Cumbrian graves of three First World War Victoria Cross winners are to be restored to their former glory as part of a nationwide project.

The Victoria Cross Trust, which is carrying out the work, has been awarded a government grant of £100,000 towards the cost of restoring all Britain’s VC graves.

Headstones will be cleaned or replaced so that the graves of those who received the highest military award for valour are a fitting tribute to their sacrifice.

In Cumbria, the final resting places of Lance Corporal James Hewitson, of Coniston; Private Harry Christian, of Pennington; and Lance-Sergeant Tom Mayson, of Silecroft; all of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, are included in the scheme.

LCpl Hewitson, who died in 1963 and is buried in St Andrew’s Church Yard, Coniston, was awarded the VC for his heroic actions at Givenchy, France, in April 1918 during which he single-handedly attacked a German machine-gun team and after that a bombing party, killing ten of the enemy in both encounters.

Pte Christian, who died in 1974 and is buried at Egremont Cemetery, was awarded his VC for rescuing three wounded comrades one-by-one from a crater which was being pounded by enemy bombs.

And Lance-Sergeant Tom Mayson, who died in 1958, was decorated for a series of heroic actions at Wieltje, Belgium, including tackling a machine-gun strongpoint single-handedly.

Announcing the grant, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “An entire generation of men fought for Britain’s freedom in the First World War and all fought valiantly. But for hundreds of those men their bravery was of such an exceptional nature they were bestowed with the highest military award, the Victoria Cross.

“As these men were honoured then for their extreme bravery on the battlefields, they should be honoured still.

“That is why I am privileged to offer more than £100,000 towards this project to ensure that their final resting places are venerated memorials where communities can pay their respects and learn about their local heroes.

“This will make sure the graves of our Victoria Cross heroes become places to reflect on their selfless service to the nation. Alongside the creation of commemorative paving stones we will create a fitting tribute to honour these heroes.”