Dereham hero Lewis Hendry honoured on war memorial

The name of Dereham's fallen hero Lewis Hendry has become the first since 1945 to be added to the roll of honour on his home town's war memorial.

The solemn monument on Market Place has been untouched since the names of lost soldiers from the two world wars were inscribed on its face.

But a new brass panel has been added to recognise those who have died in more recent conflicts which, so far, contains just one name: Hendry, Pte L.

The soldier's family are due to travel to the Colchester barracks of the Parachute Regiment today, where the Prince of Wales is expected to present them with an Elizabeth Cross in honour of Pte Hendry's sacrifice.

The 20-year-old was killed in Afghanistan in February, and his funeral in March prompted an outpouring of public grief and support, with more than 2,000 lining the streets for the ceremony.

Those emotional scenes helped galvanise the efforts of the Royal British Legion (RBL) to add the new plaque with the help of Dereham Town Council, which owns the monument.

The updated memorial will be formally blessed at 11am on Armed Forces Day on June 26 by the rector of Dereham, Canon Sally Theakston – who is also the town's Royal British Legion (RBL) chaplain.

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Mark Stevenson, an army visiting officer and spokesman for the Hendrys, said the family deeply appreciated the addition of Lewis' name to the memorial, and the commemorative service.

'They are very touched and appreciative of what the Royal British Legion has done in recognising Lewis and displaying his name for the whole town to see,' he said.

The new brass plaque, on the opposite side of the existing copper panel, allows space to remember any townspeople killed during conflicts since 1945 – including those in Korea, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rowland Hall, of the Dereham and District branch of the RBL, said he hoped to find more names who deserved to be commemorated.

'When we heard of Lewis getting killed it made me realise we needed to do something about it, so we did,' he said. 'We may now find we get inundated with other names, because this is for anybody who was born and bred in Dereham who has been killed since the end of the Second World War in 1945 – and we've only had one year since then when no-one in our armed forces has been killed on duty.

'We don't know how many people from Dereham might need to be on here. If people want to get a name on there, they need to contact me with the service number and date of death.'

Before Armed Forces Day, Mr Hall also hopes to be able to update the original panel with the missing name of Pte Benjamin Clitheroe, a Dereham soldier who died in France during the Great War in 1916.

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