Annual service to be held in memory of Norfolk war hero

Dennis O'Callaghan, bows his head after laying the wreath at his father's memorial service in Dereha

Dennis O'Callaghan at a memorial service for his father, William O'Callaghan, in Dereham - Credit: Denise Bradley

A service is set to be held in memory of a Second World War hero from Dereham.

Every year since 1989, a remembrance service has taken place for Private William O'Callaghan.

(L TO R) William O'Callaghan and Albert Pooley arriving at the War Crimes Court in Hamburg, members

William O'Callaghan (left) saved fellow soldier Albert Pooley during the Le Paradis massacre of 1940 - Credit: Archant

Pte O'Callaghan carried his injured comrade Bert Pooley to safety during the Le Paradis massacre of May 1940 - despite being injured himself. 

The pair were the only survivors of the slaughter, which saw German soldiers gun down 97 captured soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Norfolks, 1st battalion The Royal Scots and other units.

For more than 30 years, a service has been organised by Pte O’Callaghan’s son, Dennis.

Standard bearers at the memorial service to Dereham's William O'Callaghan, who survived the massacre

A memorial service for Private William O'Callaghan in Dereham - Credit: Denise Bradley

This year's commemoration will take place from 11am on Sunday, May 22, at William O’Callaghan Place in Dereham, close to the junction adjoining Becclesgate and Swaffham Road.

A number of events to mark the massacre's 80th anniversary had been planned for 2020, but were postponed due to coronavirus.

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Proceedings remained low-key last year, but a busier programme has been planned for 2022. 

William O'Callaghan with his troop at a POW camp on February 15, 1942. Pixcture: Archant

Private William O'Callaghan at a POW camp during the Second World War - Credit: Archant Library

The memorial to Dereham's William O'Callaghan, who survived the massacre at Le Paradis in 1940. Pict

A memorial to Dereham's Private William O'Callaghan, who survived the massacre at Le Paradis in 1940 - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021