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Family relief as memorial is put right

PUBLISHED: 13:03 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:02 13 July 2010

A WRONG which has distressed a war hero's family for more than 60 years has finally been righted by North Walsham Town Council.

Proud Fred Griffin can now visit the town's war memorial without flinching after the council corrected the spelling of his older brother Ossie's surname.

A WRONG which has distressed a war hero's family for more than 60 years has finally been righted by North Walsham Town Council.

Proud Fred Griffin can now visit the town's war memorial without flinching after the council corrected the spelling of his older brother Ossie's surname.

It was a poignant and emotional morning last week as Fred, 78, the only survivor of his large family, stood with the town mayor by the cairn which now lists O.J “Griffin” and not “Griffen” among the fallen.

Fred, the youngest of Frederick and Nellie Griffin's seven children, said his parents would have been delighted.

“I'm sure if my mum and dad were looking down they would go: 'Wow! At long last a wrong has been put right.' It's an absolutely fabulous moment,” said Mr Griffin, of Bacton Road, North Walsham.

Frederick and Nellie Griffin were dismayed when they saw the mistake on the new cairn in the late 1940s. They asked for it to be corrected and even offered to pay for the alteration. But they were told that it would be too complicated to arrange and they should accept that it was “just one of those things.”

Lance Sergeant Oswald Griffin, 26, who was mentioned in despatches, had been serving with the fifth battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment in Singapore when the island fell to the Japanese in February 1942. His parents never knew how or when he had died and were only informed that he was presumed killed in action.

Another son, Ernest, was left disabled by deafness after his war service and the spelling error had embittered Mrs Griffin who would not support Poppy Days as she felt her family had given enough.

When Fred read last year in the North Norfolk News that a Yarmouth Road developer had offered to spend money improving the nearby memorial garden, which houses the cairn, he wrote to the council asking if some of the cash could be used to correct the mistake.

And the council immediately agreed to carry out the work. Mayor Brian Wexler said: “The modern town council was unaware of this error until Fred contacted us. This man was a hero and we are only too pleased and proud to be able to right something which was very obviously wrong.”

Mr Wexler is pictured by the cairn with Mr Griffin and his wife Margaret, whose brother Arthur Pycroft is also recorded on the memorial.


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