THERE were 628 Victoria Crosses awarded in World War 1. Four of them were won by soldiers with a Bradford connection: Sam Meekosha, Thomas Harold Broadbent Maufe, George Chafer and Bradford Park Avenue footballer Donald Simpson Bell - the only British professional footballer to win one in that war, although many footballers fought and died, some of them winning high honours.

Meekosha was born in Leeds but brought up in Bradford. He served with the 1/6 Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. He was 22 when on November 19, 1915, his platoon of about 20 non-commissioned officers and men were bombarded in a forward position near Ypres in Belgium.

Thirteen officers and men were either killed or wounded. Corporal Meekosha took command, sending out a runner to bring help. Meanwhile, he started to dig out the wounded from trench that had collapsed, in spite of more German shelling.

He was helped by three others, Private Edgar James Wilkinson, Lance Corporal Eli Johnston and Corporal Joseph Sayers. They rescued four comrades. For their efforts the trio were each awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. For his leadership and courage under fire, Sam Meekosha was awarded the VC.

Second-Lieutenant Thomas Maufe, one of Ilkley's remarkable Maufe family (it included Thomas Maufe, the co-owner of the Brown Muff department store in Bradford, and Edward Maufe, the architect who designed Bradford Cathedral's extension).

Second Lt Maufe was 19, serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery. On June 4, 1917, at Feuchy in France, in spite of intense German shell fire and flying shrapnel, Maufe single-handedly repaired the damaged telephone wire connecting the forward and rear positions.

He then ran to an ammunition dump containing gas shells that was on fire. In spite of the obvious danger from both German artillery and the the burning ammunition dump, Maufe fought the fire until it was out.

After that he walked back to his post without any fuss, washed himself and reported for duty. He was known for being selfless, cheerful and considerate.

One of his relatives, Frederick William Broadbent Maufe, who served with the 4th West Riding Howitzer Brigade, was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while under fire.

Bradford-born private George William Chafer, known as Bill, served in the 1st battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment. On June 4, 1916, east of Meaulte, on the Somme in northern France, he retrieved an important message from another soldier who had been partly buried and knocked unconscious by en exploding shell.

Having removed the written message from the soldier's pocket, Chafer made his way along a ruined parapet. He was wounded and partly disabled by gas, nevertheless he made his way through German shell and machine-gun fire to reach his objective.

Second Lieutenant Donald Simpson Bell was one of many professional footballers who served with distinction in World War 1. Others included nine Bradford City players, among their number 1911 FA Cup winners Bob Torrance and goal-scorer Jimmy Speirs who himself was awarded the Military Medal for bravery during the second Battle of Arras in 1917.

Donald Bell made his name with Bradford Park Avenue. But it was on the Somme on July 5, 1916, that he gained military immortality. He charged a german machine-gun post and single-handedly destroyed it with a hand grenade and a pistol. Five days later he was killed by machine-gun fire.

Seaman Reginald Weeks, of Dudley Hill Road, Daisy Hill, came close to being Bradford's fifth WW1 Victoria Cross winner. He was nominated for the VC for his part in an assault by the Royal Navy on the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on April 23, 1918.

Badly wounded, he was taken back tot he Royal Navy Hospital in Kent where he died on May 24, 1918. He was buried at Scholemoor Cemetery. He was 22.