Norwich Cathedral memorial to the 97 soldiers massacred by Nazis
- Credit: Submitted
A memorial to soldiers who died on one of the Royal Norfolk Regiment’s darkest days has been unveiled at Norwich Cathedral.
The commemoration to those who died at the hands of the Nazi SS at the Le Paradis Massacre follows a fundraising campaign to permanently recognise the heroism of Norfolk’s finest.
Ninety-seven men were executed by German soldiers on a day of savagery etched into Norfolk history books on May 27 1940 in a tiny village in northern France.
The 2nd Battalion, the Royal Norfolk Regiment was part of the force whose unenviable task it was to delay the German advance while the Dunkirk evacuation of 338,000 allied servicemen began.
The Le Paradis Memorial Project, a charity which formed at the end of 2018, raised more than £60,000 to have their heroism permanently recognised.
Project chairman Rob Edwards said: “This fine memorial...will carry its message of remembrance forward through the centuries.
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“It is a beacon to the bravery of the 97 who were so cruelly murdered by the Nazis.
"It is recognition, for their families, of the professionalism and courage of the 97 who were murdered that dark day in Le Paradis.
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“For all of us it is also a reminder that the peace and freedom that are so easily taken for granted were bought at a very high price.”
The unveiling of the Portland stone memorial, at the east end of St Saviour’s Chapel, was attended by Lord Richard Dannatt, former head of the British Army, and Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, the Lady Dannatt.
Due to Covid restrictions a large service could not be held but a number of events are being planned for the summer including the dedication.
Dennis O'Callaghan, whose father Bill survived The Le Paradis massacre, said: “My father would have been elated at what we have been able to do, it's a pity it did not happen in his lifetime.
“Now it is here forever for all to remember the men who lost their lives in the fight for our freedom today.”
Brigadier Max Mariner, Le Paradis Memorial Appeal trustee, said: “We hope it brings, to the families and friends of those killed on that infamous day, some comfort and perhaps even a little sense of closure after so many years.”