The newest statue to a local Victoria Cross (VC) winner has been unveiled outside the Dorman Museum. The statue was commissioned to mark 100 years since Private Tom Dresser was awarded a VC for his heroic actions in a battlefield in France, and was created by sculptor Brian Alabaster, who also created the amazing Stanley Hollis VC statue which stands opposite the Dorman Museum.
Tom Dresser was born in Yorkshire, around the beginning of the 1890s. There are conflicting accounts of where, specifically, he was born, and in which year – it varies between 1891 and 1892. According to the Beck Isle Museum in Pickering, which claims to have a copy of Dresser’s birth certificate, he was born near Easingwold on 9th April 1891, so hopefully this is a reliable record!
We do know that Tom was educated at Hugh Bell school here in Middlesbrough. He worked for Dorman Long, both before and after the war, before taking over his father’s newsagents, which stood at 65 Marton Road. Many older residents of Middlesbrough still remember him, and the fact that he kept his VC in a tobacco tin behind the counter!
Tom Dresser’s VC was awarded for his actions on a battlefield near Roeux, France, on 12 May 1917, when he was aged just 24 years old and a Private with the 7th Yorkshire Howards Regiment.
His official VC citation gives more information:
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. Private Dresser, in spite of being twice wounded on the way, and suffering great pain, succeeded in conveying an important message from Battalion Headquarters to the front line of trenches, which he eventually reached in an exhausted condition. His fearlessness and determination to deliver this message at any cost, proved of the greatest value to his Battalion at a critical period.
Private Dresser was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 21st July 1917.
A fun fact for you: Tom Dresser VC is distantly related to Christopher Dresser, the visionary Victorian designer, to whom a fantastic (and extensive) gallery in the Dorman Museum is dedicated.
These websites were super helpful while writing this post: