Norfolk war hero saluted at poignant service

Standard bearers at the service in memory of Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham

Standard bearers at the service in memory of Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham - Credit: Dennis O'Callaghan

A Norfolk war hero who was one of only two men to survive the Le Paradis massacre of 1940 has been remembered at a touching service. 

Various dignitaries and standard bearers from across Norfolk gathered in Dereham on Sunday (May 22) morning to salute the bravery of Private William O'Callaghan.

Dennis O'Callaghan at the service in memory of his father, Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham

Dennis O'Callaghan at the service in memory of his father, Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham - Credit: Dennis O'Callaghan

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.

Every year since 1989, a service has been organised by Pte O'Callaghan's son, Dennis, and takes place at William O’Callaghan Place off Swaffham Road. 

A scene from the service in memory of Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham

A scene from the service in memory of Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham - Credit: Dennis O'Callaghan

"It is always a poignant and very meaningful occasion for me and all the other people who attend," said Mr O'Callaghan.

"Hopefully, for as long as I am around, this is something we will continue to do."

Standard bearers at the service in memory of Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham

Standard bearers at the service in memory of Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham - Credit: Dennis O'Callaghan

Dennis O'Callaghan and lay reader at the service in memory of Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham

Dennis O'Callaghan and lay reader at the service in memory of Private William O'Callaghan, in Dereham - Credit: Dennis O'Callaghan