Second Lieutenant Frank Bernard Wearne VC
“More than ten months after Wearne received his injuries , he was passed fit for general service despite having limited use in his right hand and fingers”
Slightly built, bespectacled and often sporting a worried frown, Bernard Wearne was an unlikely war hero. Yet in the heat of battle, his leadership skills were matched only by his incredible displays of courage. It is little wonder that he was so respected by his comrades and that he was ultimately decorated with Britain and the Commonwealth’s premiere award for valour in the presence of the enemy: the Victoria Cross. I am delighted to be the proud custodian of Wearne’s medal group having purchased it at a Spink auction in London in 1997. Frank Bernard Wearne was born in Kensington, west London, on March 1, 1894. The second of four brothers, he was the son of Frank Wearne, a wine merchant, and his wife Ada (née Morris). With his father also called Frank, Wearne was always known by his second Christian name, often abbreviated to ‘Bernie’. For much of his early years, his family lived in Worcester Park on the border of southwest London and Surrey. Wearne attended Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire from 1908 onwards, where he went on to become head monitor. He was interested in the military during his teenage years and joined the Officers’ Training Corps. In 1912, when 18, he won a scholarship to Oxford University and he attended Corpus Christi College in the following year. His studies, like so many of his generation, were interrupted by the outbreak of World War One. On September 5, 1914, just days after the start of that conflict. Wearne volunteered to serve in a public school battalion and he soon joined the 18th Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers. Two of his brothers also took part in the war effort: his elder brother, Keith, served in the 1st Battalion, The Essex Regiment and one of his younger brothers, Geoffrey, served in the Canadian Army. On November 22, ‘Bernie’ Wearne was promoted to lance corporal but five weeks later he voluntarily reverted back to the rank of private.