A commemoration service has been held to mark 100 years since a man from Merton sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers during World War One.

Second Lieutenant George Edward Cates, of the Rifle Brigade, was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery following his death in Bouchavesnes, France, on March 9, 1917.

2nd Lt Cates was just 24-years-old when his officer hit a buried bomb with his spade while they were working to deepen a captured German trench.

A notice published in the London Gazette on May 11, 1917, said: “2nd Lt Cates, in order to save the lives of his comrades, placed his foot on the bomb which immediately exploded.

“He showed the most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in performing the act which cost his life but saved the lives of others.

“This heroic young officer died of his wounds the same night, March 9, 1917.”

2nd Lt Cates was born at 86 Hartfield Road, Wimbledon, in May 1892

A service to commemorate his actions and unveil a memorial stone dedicated to 2nd Lt Cates was held at the Wimbledon War Memorial in Parkside and attended by Merton councillors, officers from the Rifles and representatives from Rutlish School, where he had been a pupil, on Wednesday, March 8.

The mayor of Merton, Councillor Brenda Fraser, said: “It is right and fitting for us to commemorate the bravery of one of our residents who fought and died 100 years ago.

“Millions of men and women like George Cates laid down their lives for their country during World War One.”

Merton’s cabinet member for community and culture, Councillor Nick Draper, said: “George Cates’ actions, and those of the many men and women like him, have shaped our present day.

“They are our history and we owe it to them to keep their legacy alive.”

For more information about 2nd Lt Cates, visit the Carved in Stone website.