ONE of Oxfordshire's most famous war veterans has been honoured 100 years after he returned to the city with a hero's welcome.

Thousands of people lined the streets in July 1917 when Edward Brooks was paraded through Oxford to his Headington home after being awarded the Victoria Cross on his return from the First World War.

A century later crowds once again packed Windsor Street in Headington to see a blue plaque unveiled in his memory earlier today.

One of only two men from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry to win the Victoria Cross during the First World War, Sergeant Major Brooks captured an enemy machine gun while under heavy fire and turned it on the enemy causing them to retreat, saving many lives.

His grandson Keith Brooks, who lives in Horspath, said the unveiling marked a very special day for the entire family.

He said: "It was a very proud moment for me and the family, unveiling the plaque at his Headington house, and my grandfather would have been proud too to see so many people there.

"He was a bit different to a lot of people, he was always looking for adventure, he left home at 13 and signed up for the Boer War at 16.

"He did what he did without even thinking and it was incredible brave."

The 70-year-old said he had since discovered an extraordinary detail about his grandfather's actions on that day in April 1917.

He said: "I recently learned that he may have deliberately shot over the heads of the Germans as they were running.

"Because he didn't want to shoot anyone in the back."

Brigadier Nigel Mogg, former president of the Royal Green Jackets Association, told the crowds of people crammed into Windsor Street in Headington today of Edward Brooks' heroics.

On April 28, 1917 in Fayet, France Company Sergeant Major Brooks and his 2nd/ 4th battalion raided an enemy trench they thought to be recently vacated.

The troops suddenly came under heavy machine gun fire and CSM Brooks instinctively ran at the gunner, shot him with his revolver and bayoneted another German.

He turned the machine gun on the retreating Germans and in the process saved many lives.

Brigadier Mogg said: "Edward was a remarkable man.

"He acted with incredible courage and complete disregard for his own safety and undoubtedly saved very many lives and ensured the attack was a success.

"It's important that we remember him and also those in his battalion that didn't return home."

CSM Brooks and his wife Elsie were met on the platform at Oxford station on July 18, 1917 after he collected his VC from King George VI in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

As the 4.55 from Paddington pulled into the city the Headington Silver Band met the couple and they were taken in a horse-drawn carriage up High Street, through St Clement's and Headington Hill with well-wishers throwing flowers and waving flags.

The blue plaque scheme is reserved to mark the achievements of notable Oxford citizens.

Secretary of the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board, Eda Forbes said: "Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of his return to Headington was part of the proposals and of course Edward Brooks was an amazing candidate for a plaque, he showed such remarkable bravery.

"It was great to see such a great turnout a century on."