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‘Show we remember him’ call to join centenary service for brave Dereham soldier

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 August 2017

Liam Young at the grave of Pte Alfred Back in Dereham cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

Liam Young at the grave of Pte Alfred Back in Dereham cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

The people of Dereham are being urged to pay tribute to a fallen soldier from the town, 100 years after his death.

Dereham in the First World War. New recruits and reservists gather on the Market Place. Picture: Kitty Lynn archiveDereham in the First World War. New recruits and reservists gather on the Market Place. Picture: Kitty Lynn archive

A service will be held in the town cemetery on Friday to mark the centenary of the death of Private Alfred Back, of the Middlesex Regiment, who died on August 11, 1917 after being injured in France.

Liam Young, who served with the Light Dragoons previously based at Swanton Morley, has taken in upon himself to research the history of all the men in the cemetery who died in the First World War and saw Pte Back’s 100-year anniversary was approaching.

He got in touch with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and discovered that Pte Back lived in Dereham and left a young wife and two young childen. He had been transferred to the Agricultural Company Labour Corps after he was injured but died from illness at Clandon Park Army Hospital in Surrey.

Mr Young was determined to find relatives to help mark the occasion and appeals on social media and in this newspaper then helped him to find a great granddaughter in Croydon and a great niece in Norwich.

The grave of Pte Alfred Back in Dereham cemetery. Picture: Ian BurtThe grave of Pte Alfred Back in Dereham cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

As a result the service on Friday will be attended by Pte Back’s family, some of whom have never seen his grave before, and will take place at the graveside at 11am.

Great granddaughter Ali Smith said: “I am so very proud of my great grandad, and of all service men and women throughout the years that have given their lives to keep us and our country safe.

“I am so looking forward to meeting Alfred’s great niece Olwen. My mother, Alfred’s granddaughter, is honoured that so many people are following the plan for his memorial service.

“She has such fond memories of going to Dereham throughout her childhood and as an adult to visit her family. It will be lovely to visit again and for such a special day. Our family is deeply touched.”

Ex-serviceman Liam Young. Picture: Ian BurtEx-serviceman Liam Young. Picture: Ian Burt

Anyone who would like to come along is more than welcome to do so and Mr Young has urged people to spare half an hour to pay tribute if they can.

He said: “Dereham has always supported the armed forces well with the RAF, 9th/12 Lances, The Light Dragoons and the Queens Dragoon Guards.

“I feel this is a good opportunity to show his family that the community of Dereham remembers him and all who make the sacrifice to serve.”

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