Search

Important moment in Dereham’s history archived on new website commemorating the 97 lives lost at the Massacre at Le Paradis

Photograph of the  2nd Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment in 1939. See also: (L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment.  Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan Entwistle

Photograph of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment in 1939. See also: (L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment. Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan Entwistle

Eastern Daily Press © 2004

A story of a Dereham war hero who survived an infamous massacre nearly eight decades ago has been recorded for the first time on a website dedicated to the men who lost their lives.

Graveyard of 98 men from the Royal Norfolk Regiment buried - Le Paradis. See also: (L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment. Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan EntwistleGraveyard of 98 men from the Royal Norfolk Regiment buried - Le Paradis. See also: (L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment. Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan Entwistle

Private William O’Callaghan, of Dereham, was one of only two survivors of an infamous massacre in May 1940, when German soldiers machine-gunned and bayoneted 99 captured Royal Norfolks, who had surrendered to SS officers in the French hamlet of Le Paradis, near Dunkirk.

Despite being wounded himself, Pte O’Callaghan was able to carry his injured comrade Private Bert Pooley half a mile to the relative safety of a neighbouring farm.

Pte O’Callaghan spent five years as a prisoner of war, mainly in Poland, but in 1948 he and Pte Pooley testified at the war crimes trial of Fritz Knoechlein, who was subsequently hanged.

And now his bravery has been archived on a new website, dedicated to the memory of the 97 soldiers who were massacred in Northern France.

The barn where the murder of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment at  Le Paradis took place. See also: (L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment.  Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan EntwistleThe barn where the murder of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment at Le Paradis took place. See also: (L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment. Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan Entwistle

Pts O’Callaghan’s son, Dennis, has spent the past eight years researching and recording the information.

“It’s very significant with the amount of information which we have at our disposal,” he said.

“There’s things published on the website now which have never been seen before.”

(L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment. Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan Entwistle(L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment. Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan Entwistle

Dennis has always been active in making sure his father’s story lives on in the community and in 2013 visited Scarning Primary School to talk to a group of 60 seven and eight-year-olds. He has also led dignitaries honouring his memory .

The Le Paradis Massacre _ Hell in Paradise website has been put together by experts on the subject and residents of the Le Paradis, and covers all aspects of the massacre, from the men who sacrificed their lives, the background, and the village of Le Paradis. It also explores the years after the massacre.

Many of the documents and photographs featured have never been available to the public, including Pte O’Callaghan’s personal diaries and artwork by Captain Charles W. H. Long, which was discovered in Scotland by the Long Family.

William O'Callaghan (left) outside the Nuremberg Law Courts. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYWilliam O'Callaghan (left) outside the Nuremberg Law Courts. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Peter Steward, who designed the website, said: “What we are trying to do is build up a whole picture of this moment in time.”

He added that they were also keen to hear from families of the 97 soldiers who died.

- You can view the website here . There is also a contact form for anyone who has information they would like to share with the team.

Testiments from the War Crimes hearing of the murder of soldiers from the  2nd Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment at Le Paradis. See also: (L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment.  Picture: James Bass Copy: Rowan EntwistleTestiments from the War Crimes hearing of the murder of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment at Le Paradis. See also: (L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members of the 2nd Battlion Royal Norfolk Regiment. Picture: James Bass Copy: Rowan Entwistle

Captain Charles W. H. Long and his artwork*

Charles Long was born in Attleborough on March 18, 1906.

Dennis O'Callaghan with the plaque to his father, William (Bill) O'Callaghan from Dereham who survived the massacre at Le Paradis in 1940, at O'Callaghan Place in Dereham. Photo: Denise BradleyDennis O'Callaghan with the plaque to his father, William (Bill) O'Callaghan from Dereham who survived the massacre at Le Paradis in 1940, at O'Callaghan Place in Dereham. Photo: Denise Bradley

He was the son of Major Herbert Charles Long, also of the Royal Norfolk Regiment.

Long was a keen athlete and represented Norfolk at cricket and hockey. He was also an accomplished artist and friend of Michael Seago and his brother Edward when they studied at the Ipswich School of Art.

He was injured in the last few moments prior to surrender at Le Paradis and ended up in a ditch along with another group which included Captain Hastings. Because of this, they were taken by a different German detachment as prisoners of war. Long was awarded the Military Cross for an act of bravery during Le Paradis.

He attended the trial of Fritz Knoechlein and provided evidence.

Charles Long dramatically depicts the harrowing aftermath of the atrocity in a drawing entitled Massacre Scene evening of 27th May, 1940. Picture: WITH PERMISSION FROM THE LONG FAMILY.Charles Long dramatically depicts the harrowing aftermath of the atrocity in a drawing entitled Massacre Scene evening of 27th May, 1940. Picture: WITH PERMISSION FROM THE LONG FAMILY.

After the war he continued his career in the Army, retiring in 1960.

*Taken with permission from the website Massacre at Le Paradie - Hell in Paradise

Other news

Emergency services were called after a car overturned in mid-Norfolk.

Hundreds of visitors hopped along to a popular village fair celebrating creativity and community spirit.

07:58

Summer is seriously over, as the Met Office announces temperatures in the east of England will reach a maximum of 13C this weekend.

Yesterday, 17:17

From an early age, Dereham’s Todd Cantwell had always dreamed of becoming a professional footballer and for his family, it is all they had ever wanted to see him do.

Most Read

Hundreds of visitors hopped along to a popular village fair celebrating creativity and community spirit.

Read more
St Mary's Church
07:58

Summer is seriously over, as the Met Office announces temperatures in the east of England will reach a maximum of 13C this weekend.

Read more
Dan Holley
Yesterday, 17:17

From an early age, Dereham’s Todd Cantwell had always dreamed of becoming a professional footballer and for his family, it is all they had ever wanted to see him do.

Read more
Northgate High School
Yesterday, 16:21

A father whose two sons rely on one of the 46 children’s centres under threat of closure has urged people to make their voices heard over the controversial proposals.

Read more

Most Commented

Hundreds of visitors hopped along to a popular village fair celebrating creativity and community spirit.

Read more
St Mary's Church
07:58

Summer is seriously over, as the Met Office announces temperatures in the east of England will reach a maximum of 13C this weekend.

Read more
Dan Holley
Yesterday, 17:17

From an early age, Dereham’s Todd Cantwell had always dreamed of becoming a professional footballer and for his family, it is all they had ever wanted to see him do.

Read more
Northgate High School
Yesterday, 16:21

A father whose two sons rely on one of the 46 children’s centres under threat of closure has urged people to make their voices heard over the controversial proposals.

Read more

Local Weather

Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 9°C

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Dereham Times e-edition today
E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Dereham Times weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy