DESCENDANTS of the four Tank Corps men who were awarded Victoria Crosses posthumously in World War One have assembled for the opening of a new exhibition in Dorset.

The four VCs, which have been brought together for the first time, are on display at The Tank Museum in Bovington.

Prior to the opening of the exhibit, members of the current Tank Regiment read the citations explaining the bravery displayed by the men who won the medal.

The Victoria Cross is the British armed forces highest medal for gallantry in the presence of the enemy.

Ian Robertson, the great nephew of recipient Clement Robertson said: "I am deeply proud and wear his replica medals.

"The bridge where he died is called Robertson’s Bridge and has been upgraded to memorial status."

Clement Robertson, aged 26, was the first Tank Corps officer to be awarded the VC, for his heroics at Passchendaele on October 4, 1917. Prior to advancing he spent three days in no-man’s-land, under heavy fire, marking out routes for his tanks to follow. On the day of the push, even with the routes taped out, he feared tanks might lose their way. So he led them into battle on foot. As the tanks continued under shell and bullet fire Robertson was shot and killed.

Peter Harrison, whose great uncle was Richard Wain from South Wales, said: "What he had done didn’t register with us when we were young, but of course we realised later.

"He could have saved himself but picked up a rifle to continue shooting at the enemy.

"He was taken to hospital where he died, but there is no known grave although there is a headstone.”

Captain Richard Wain won his medal at the Battle of Cambria, November 20, 1917.

The 20-year-old was seriously injured after his tank was hit, but he refused a stretcher, instead grabbing a Lewis gun and attacking the enemy on foot.

After capturing a strong point, he took prisoners and allowed the infantry to advance. While firing at the retreating Germans he was fatally shot in the head.

Cecil Sewell, aged 23, was awarded his VC for two linked actions on August 29, 1918. After seeing one of his fellow Whippet tanks fall into a shell hole and catch fire, he jumped from his own tank and dug away the mud so the crew could escape.

Then he saw that his own tank driver, Gunner Knox, was wounded. He rushed to help and despite being shot several times, made it to his comrade and administered first aid. While treating Knox, he was fatally shot.

Cecil's great niece Wendy Shaw said: "The story has always been in the family.

"Their generation didn’t make much of it, but we’ve always known about Cecil and are so proud.

"The children have done things about him at school. He was only 23 when he died; so young, and these men had no thought for themselves.”

The fourth VC on show at the museum was awarded to Richard West.

Richard, from Cheltenham, was also awarded his VC for two linked actions in 1918. His last words were: "Stick it, men; show them fight, and for God’s sake put up a good fight."

His Granddaughter Kitty Morris, who also attended the exhibit opening, explained: "It is very emotional and I’m very proud.

"He joined up as a trooper as they wouldn’t give him a commission. He'd already served in South Africa and was a professional soldier.

"In the tanks it was likely that any award would be posthumous because if the tank was hit they'd probably be burned alive and if they got out they'd probably be shot.”

Richard West was 23 when he died.

'The Victoria Cross Exhibition; Men of Extraordinary Bravery’ runs until November 11.