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British Cycling supports recognition of cyclists who gave their lives during times of conflict

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Published: 15 May 2014

British Cycling is ‘honoured’ to support the unveiling of a new plaque on a cyclists’ war memorial in Warwickshire, president Bob Howden said today.

The memorial, built in 1921, recognises the sacrifice of all cyclists who gave their lives during the First and Second World Wars. It stands at over 30 feet high in Meriden, Warwickshire, and was jointly funded by subscriptions from cyclists alongside donations from organisations around the country, including British Cycling.

British Cycling president Bob Howden said:

“We are honoured to get behind this special project. It is now 100 years since the Great War started and it is important that the sacrifices made by so many are not forgotten by the passage of time. The important role played by cyclists in protecting our country was absolutely vital and it is a pleasure to see their efforts being recognised.”

The inscription on the new plaque reads, “In lasting memory of all cyclists who gave their life when serving their country”.

Although not widely known, cyclists in the army were actually very common. At the start of WW1 in 1914 the British had 14,000 cyclists in a variety of bicycle regiments and battalions, and by 1919 boasted over 100,000 riders.

Bikes were perhaps used most famously during the Battle of Mons in August 1914, with British and French cyclists dismounting from bicycles and lying prone to fire weapons before being able to retreat quickly on the bike. The London Cyclist battalion also patrolled the coast of England to watch for any sign of German invasion and, after air attacks began in 1915, cyclists with ‘Take Cover’ signs warned British citizens to find shelter.

More recently, some of the greatest Paralympic athletes in the world have served in the forces in recent years, none more so than Jon-Allan Butterworth who lost his left arm after being injured in a rocket attack while serving in Iraq in 2007, before going on to win three silver medals at the Paralympics in London 2012, as well as becoming a double world champion.

Jon-Allan Butterworth added:

“The bravery shown by these cyclists during both the First and the Second World War is something that many people simply aren’t aware of. That their contribution to the war effort continues to be acknowledged is brilliant and something that I am very happy to see.”

In line with the 100th anniversary of the war the next memorial service, which will see the official unveiling of the plaque by the Bishop of Warwick, Right Reverend John Stroyan, will take place on Sunday 18 May in Meriden at 11.00am. All are welcome to attend.