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Poignant trip being arranged by Dereham war hero’s son

Dennis O'Callaghan laid a wreath at the Remembrance Service of his father William O'Callaghan. Picture: Ian Burt

Dennis O'Callaghan laid a wreath at the Remembrance Service of his father William O'Callaghan. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

The son of a war-time hero from Dereham who survived an infamous massacre is organising a visit to France next year to mark the anniversary.

(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. edp 10.07.04  Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan Entwistle For: EDP NEWS EDP Pics ©2004  Tel: (01603) 772434(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. edp 10.07.04 Picture: Supplied Copy: Rowan Entwistle For: EDP NEWS EDP Pics ©2004 Tel: (01603) 772434

Private Bill O’Callaghan saved his comrade Private Bert Pooley and later helped convict the German commander who ordered the mass execution at Le Paradis, near Dunkirk, in May 1940.

They were the only two men left alive after German soldiers machine-gunned and bayoneted nearly 100 British soldiers who surrendered in the French hamlet.

Private O’Callaghan, who died in 1975, is commemorated by a plaque in William O’Callaghan Place, a housing development off Swaffham Road.

His son Dennis has worked tirelessly to ensure the heroism is recognised and each May a short service is held near the plaque in Dereham to remember him.

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 Entwistle For: EDP NEWS edp 10.07.04 EDP Pics ©2004  Tel: (01603) 772434The 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 For: EDP NEWS edp 10.07.04 EDP Pics ©2004 Tel: (01603) 772434

Mr O’Callaghan has also started to organise trip sto Northern France to mark the anniversary of the massacre.

He still has spaces on a coach trip for the latest visit from Friday May 24-Monday May 28, 2013 and there will be pick ups across Norfolk.

The group will visit various places including Le Paradis and Ypres.

Dereham deputy mayor Kate Millbank - who is due to be the town’s civic leader next year - is among those going.

The plaque to William (Bill) O'Callaghan from Dereham who survived the massacre at Le Paradis in 1940, at O'Callaghan Place in Dereham.
Photo: Denise Bradley
Copy: Ian Clarke
For: EDP/EN
©Archant Photographic 2010
01603 772434The plaque to William (Bill) O'Callaghan from Dereham who survived the massacre at Le Paradis in 1940, at O'Callaghan Place in Dereham. Photo: Denise Bradley Copy: Ian Clarke For: EDP/EN ©Archant Photographic 2010 01603 772434

Mr O’Callaghan said: “It will be the first time a mayor from Dereham has gone and the French are putting on a function for us. This will really help us build the links.”

The cost of the trip will be £309 per person (with a single room supplement).

Mr O’Callaghan can be contacted on 01485 600742.

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