The Le Paradis Memorial is Dedicated in the Presence of HRH The Princess Royal

A little over two years after proposing a memorial to the 97 Royal Norfolk and B.E.F soldiers murdered at Le Paradis on 27th May 1940, HRH The Princess Royal attended the Service of Dedication at the newly installed monument outside Norwich Cathedral on 13th July 2021.

HRH The Princess Royal, accompanied by General The Lord Dannatt and The Dean, is welcomed by Brigadier Max Marriner, Patron of The Project.

Also in attendance at the COVID-19 restricted service were the Trustees and key supporters of the appeal which raise both the funds needed to create the monument and also awareness of the project. There are some 4 memorials in Northern France to commemorate the massacre, there are none in the United Kingdom, an oversight that is now corrected some 80 years after the event.

HRH The Princess Royal laid a wreath during the service and expressed both her support for the project and her pleasure at seeing a memorial installed outside our Regimental Chapel.

The memorial is a very fitting tribute to those who died at Le Paradis; it will also act as a focus for future Services of Commemoration for both relatives and The Regiment in this County and indeed, the Country. The first of these large Services, proposed for 2022, is now being jointly planned with Norwich Cathedral and the Appeal Charity.

A Regimental Honour Guard was in place throughout the Service.

May 1940 - the context of the battle at Le Paradis

It is May 1940. Churchill has just become Prime Minister. The war in France is going badly. Halifax, the Foreign Secretary, wants a negotiated peace with Germany, with Mussolini as the go-between. If the Dunkirk evacuation fails then he will probably get his way, with Churchill replaced by a puppet-leader and Great Britain becoming a vassal state of Nazi Germany.

Selected British and French troops are ordered to defend the evacuation. This rear-guard will fight to the last bullet. There is no hope of evacuation for them. This includes the Royal Norfolks in Le Paradis, a village 60 miles south of Dunkirk.

They do their job. They stop the Nazi Waffen SS, fighting them to a standstill. They surrendered only when they run out of ammunition. Their reward? Not a prisoner-of-war camp. No. Unarmed, they are riddled with machine-gun bullets and finished off with bayonets.

More about Norwich Cathedral