Norfolk marine’s name is the first to go on Tittleshall war memorial for 65 years

A young Norfolk marine who died in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve 2008 has become the first person to have his name inscribed on the war memorial in his home village for 65 years.

Lance Corporal Ben Whatley was shot dead at the age of 20 when fighting the Taliban in the Helmand Province.

His name was inscribed on the war memorial in Tittleshall, near Fakenham, earlier this month. It is the first name to go on the memorial since Reginald A. Lusha in 1945.

Mr Whatley's mother Teresa said: 'This is a very fitting tribute to Ben and it makes us feel very proud.

'Having Ben's name here is wonderful, really, really nice. Ben meant a lot to a lot of people and this is a place where Ben's friends can come and think about him. A few of his friends have been here already and left small crosses.

'If you met Ben, you wouldn't forget him. He was 6ft 5ins tall and was a very lively, outgoing young man. He was the life and soul of the party. It is not getting any easier to come to terms with his death.' Mrs Whatley and her husband and Ben's father Sam said they marked the two minute silence on Armistice Day privately but they would return to the Tittleshall war memorial for a small Remembrance Sunday service.

Mr Whatley said: Every single day is remembrance day for us, but having Ben's name on the war memorial helps bring some closure and enables us to continue to deal with things privately.

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'It's great that now future generations will remember what Ben has done for his country.

'A lot of the younger generation are taking this sort of thing on board, because we've lost so many young people in the last year.'

The inscription was organised by Tittleshall Parish Council and was the idea of the council's chairman John Garner.

He said: 'I've know Ben since he was a young child and I've always been very fond of him. He was a fantastic boy and a real leader of men. His commanding officer told me that Ben was very highly regarded in the marines and he was destined for great things.'

Mrs Whatley added: 'We'd like to thank the parish council for doing this for us and all of our friends who have helped us through this very difficult time.'