THE families of Burnley’s highest decorated war heroes travelled from across the UK to oversee plaques unveiled in their honour.
His family stood side by side the family of Hugh Colvin, who was also awarded the highest military honour for his bravery during the battle, in the Peace Garden, Burnley, to watch the unveiling of commemorative flagstones.
“I have seen clips of the battle and I can’t believe how all those men coped with it.
“My grandfather, like everyone else, was made of stern stuff and was incredibly brave.
“This will help the younger generations remember those who will likely to be forgotten as time goes by.”
During the event an excerpt from a play about Mr Whitham was performed by students from the Thomas Whitham Sixth Form College, which was named after the war hero.
A minutes silence was also observed.
Private Whitham was 29-years-old when he came under attack from a machine gun during the battle.
He managed to work his way from bunker to bunker up towards the machine gun, capture it and save the lives of his troops.
Second lieutenant Hugh Colvin, took command of his company and another when all the officers had been injured.
He led them forward under heavy gun fire and was successful in gaining ground.
Alastair Thompson, Mr Colvin’s great nephew, along with his wife Elizabeth, had travelled from Northern Ireland for the event.
Mr Thompson said: “I was 18-years-old when he died and I remember he was great with me and the other children.
“He was such a nice person, he was also a great gymnast.
“It is very important that these people should be remembered and the younger generations know why the war should never be allowed to happen again.”