Details of the life of war hero Drummer Dudley Stagpoole were emerging this week - and it appears he was a keen drinker and something of a ladies' man.

Following an appeal by the Barnet War Memorials Initiative (BWMI) last week, relatives of Drummer Stagpoole - still the only soldier to win the two highest awards in the Army in the space of one week - have been speaking about his life.

Born in 1839 in Killunan, County Galway, Drummer Stagpoole, a member of the 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, died at the age of 73, after retiring to a workhouse in Ware, Hertfordshire.

His neglected grave at Hendon Park Cemetery in Holders Hill Road is to be restored by the BWMI to a quality befitting a soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) and Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) after rescuing two wounded comrades from rebel natives in New Zealand, during the Maori War on October 2, 1863.

His great, great grandson Mike Dixon, 46, who is standing as a candidate in the European elections for the Liberal Democrats in the West Midlands, said: "One anecdote is that, like a lot of soldiers in those days, he liked a good drink. Apparently he was presented with the Victoria Cross at lunch time by Queen Victoria and then went out and pawned the medal to get some money to treat himself and his mates to a drink.

"On hearing what he had done, the regimental colonel - out of his own pocket - brought the medal back and it was kept by the regiment and only given to Dudley to wear on special occasions.

"In his lifetime, he was married at least three times - and possibly four. On the last occasion he was in his mid to late-60s and she was in her 20s. You can gather, he was quite a colourful character."

Mr Dixon, of Kidderminster, West Midlands, said members of the family still talked about Drummer Stagpoole's exploits to this day.

"Originally he died a pauper and was not given a gravestone in the first place. The regiment pooled some money for a gravestone a few years later," he said.

"Through lack of family being in the area there was no-one to maintain it.

"I'm all in favour of any initiative which restores a bit more dignity to his passing and where he is lying."