A memorial to Major Robert Henry Cain, VC, is being considered for Castletown’s swing bridge.
Major Cain was awarded the Victoria Cross for ‘superb gallantry’ displayed throughout the whole course Battle of Arnhem (reads a citation announced on November 2, 1944 and on display in Isle of Man Hospice).
The citation continues: ‘His powers of endurance and leadership were the admiration of all his fellow officers and stories of his valour were being constantly exchanged amongst the troops. His coolness and courage under incessant fire could not be surpassed.’
The town’s MHK Richard Ronan, who is vice-chairman of the government’s Preservation of War Memorials (PWM), wrote to the town’s local authority the PWM were approached about erecting a memorial for Major Cain, ‘although not Manx born, [he] was educated in the island, retired here and is buried in Braddan Cemetery,’ wrote Mr Ronan.
Given Major Cain and his men ‘landed eight miles from the so-called “Bridge Too Far” (where the British were fighting desperately to retain their foothold at the north end), it was agreed that a bridge within the Isle of Man would be a good idea for any such memorial,’ he wrote. ‘Subsequently it was agreed that the Swing Bridge in Castletown would make a good location as during his retirement Major Cain resided close to the bridge.’
Former Castletown resident Frances Clarkson (wife of journalist Jeremy) has given her agreement to the proposal, he wrote.
The harbours division of the Department of Infrastructure have agreed with the proposal.
The story of Major Cain could be included in new interpretation signage to be erected in the town (a regeneration scheme) and Mr Ronan, who is also chairman of the town’s Regeneration Committee, asked for the authority’s input.
Mr Ronan said: ‘What I want to do on the regeneration committee is to encourage Castletown to become more than a historical town and it’s wonderful to embrace a war hero … That area (of the bridge) is known as the quarterdeck, we want to make it a place people want to come. This bridge we have always known as the Swing Bridge – the sign will have a full description and a little bit of history, there will probably be a couple of signs going up. It’s a wonderful story, Castletown needs things like this, I believe.’
The first signage as part of the regeneration scheme will go in George Lane in the coming months and more will follow. There are also plans – involving Manx National Heritage – for further work in the castle moat and grounds.
Mr Ronan said: ‘These are very exciting times for the town, any regeneration work will have a lasting impact and not be a token gesture. Signs will be sensitively put around the town everything will be discussed with these bodies.’
Commissioners agreed last week (June 10) to support the idea of Major Cain’s memorial.