New books remembers those from Thorpe who made ultimate sacrifice

Thorpe History Group members John Balls and Dale Wiseman with the Thorpe St Andrew war memorial book 

Thorpe History Group members John Balls and Dale Wiseman with the Thorpe St Andrew war memorial book - Credit: Richard Balls

A book chronicling the lives of men from Thorpe St Andrew who gave their lives during some of the fiercest battles of the Second World War has just been published.

Families of those whose names appear on the town’s War Memorial and others elsewhere told their stories for the project led by Thorpe History Group members John Balls and Dale Wiseman, and were among those who attended the launch of the book at the St Andrews Centre on Saturday.

The book records in detail for the first time the sacrifice made by 55 men – 49 of whom are commemorated on the memorial at the River Green.

The journey into their lives began last year with an interactive Poppy Trail held in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday. 

All 55 poppies related to a separate individual and the boards were located, where possible, at the addresses where they had lived as a result of the initiative put together by Thorpe St Andrew Town Council, Thorpe History Group and the Royal British Legion.

Of those in the army, nine served in the Royal Norfolks, while others were in a variety of regiments, 13 were in the Royal Air Force or the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and eight were in the Royal Navy.

Nineteen-year-old Driver Ronald Shears and Able Seaman Douglas Smith were the youngest casualties, while the oldest was Horace Pechey, aged 47.

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The first death was that of Lt Cecil Yallop, who was killed on May 26, 1940, and the last to die was Aircraftman Gordon Ridley on March 26, 1946.

Local writer and former teacher John Balls said: “Some of the stories that have been uncovered are extraordinary and the response of many of the families has been remarkable.

"The poignant photographs and personal information they supplied was invaluable and through the book their stories will now be passed on to the next generations of families and the people of Thorpe.”

Thorpe St Andrew 1939-45: The War Memorial is priced £9 and if you would like a copy, email johnb1912@btinternet.com