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Special train service to boost appeal for WWII massacre victims

PUBLISHED: 09:45 28 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:27 28 August 2019

The Royal Norfolk Regiment locomotive, which will be used for the fundraising event. Picture: David Bale

The Royal Norfolk Regiment locomotive, which will be used for the fundraising event. Picture: David Bale

Archant

It is one of the most heroic actions of the Second World War, but Britain still has no memorial to the men of Le Paradis.

The Austerity Class steam locomotive, The Royal Norfolk Regiment, will take passengers on a fundraising journey aboard the North Norfolk Railway. Picture: NNRThe Austerity Class steam locomotive, The Royal Norfolk Regiment, will take passengers on a fundraising journey aboard the North Norfolk Railway. Picture: NNR

A fundraising campaign is well underway to rectify this and build a lasting tribute to the 97 soldiers, mostly from the Royal Norfolk Regiment, who lost their lives.

Almost half of an estimated £50,000 has already been raised for the memorial, and now a 'black tie and tiara' event aboard the North Norfolk Railway (NNR) is being planned to add more to the pot.

Brigadier Max Marriner, who is part of the fundraising effort, said: "It promises to be a very special evening with a reception at Sheringham Station followed by a splendid dinner aboard for 110 people, pulled by the Austerity class steam locomotive, The Royal Norfolk Regiment.

"It has always seemed to many people in Norfolk that the total absence of any memorial to the fallen of Le Paradis in this country is a glaring omission, especially when there are a number in northern France."

The original graves of the 97 soldiers killed by SS troops after fighting a delaying action to enable their comrades to escape from Dunkirk. Picture: Archant LibraryThe original graves of the 97 soldiers killed by SS troops after fighting a delaying action to enable their comrades to escape from Dunkirk. Picture: Archant Library

MORE: Campaign for Norfolk memorial to 97 soldiers massacred by the SS

More than 300,000 troops were evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940, marking a cornerstone of the eventual victory of the Second World War.

But the evacuation was only made possible by the defence of the Dunkirk perimeter, with one of the battlefields centreing on the village of Le Paradis and Lestrem in northern France. The troops were ordered to fight to their final bullet. When they ran out of ammunition they surrendered, and were brutally massacred by the SS in what was later recognised as a war crime.

Mr Marriner added: "There will also be an 'auction of promises' which has some excellent items already donated by the NNR team.

"We are encouraging as many people as possible to join us for what will be a most memorable evening."

Brigadier Max Marriner. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMOREBrigadier Max Marriner. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Nick Conrad, president of the Le Paradis Memorial Appeal said: "This will be one very special night. These dinning train experiences are amazing, coupled with the stunning scenery this event is unmissable."

Tickets for the Monday, October 14 event are £100 and are available from www.nnrailway.co.uk/dining-trains.

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