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Lest We Forget
British Legion
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LE PARADIS, FRANCE

These pictures are courtesy of Lynda Smith.


Le Paradis Memorial and Cemetery

Pas-de-Calais.
26th May 1940

A company of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, trapped in a cowshed, surrendered to the 2nd Infantry Regiment, SS 'Totenkopf' (Death's Head) Division under the command of 28 year old SS Obersturmfuhrer Fritz Knoechlein. Marched to a group of farm buildings, they were lined up in the meadow along side the barn wall. When the 99 prisoners were in position, two machine guns opened fire killing 97 of them. The bodies were then buried in a mass grave on the farm property. Two managed to escape; Privates Albert Pooley and William O'Callaghan emerged from the slaughter wounded but alive. When the SS troops moved on, the two wounded soldiers were discovered, after having hid in a pig-sty for three days and nights, by Madame Castel of Le Paradis who then cared for them till captured again by another Wehrmacht unit to spend the rest of the war as a POW. In 1942, the bodies of those executed were exhumed by the French authorities and reburied in the local churchyard now part of the Le Paradis War Cemetery. After the war, the massacre was investigated and Knoechlein was traced and arrested. During the war he had been awarded three Knight's Crosses. Tried before a War Crimes Court in Hamburg, he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, and on January 28, 1949, the sentence was carried out. Married with four children, his wife attended the trial every day.

A memorial has been erected in the village commemorating the men who were massacred.

IN THIS VILLAGE ON MAY 27TH 1940
97 MEMBERS OF THE BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY
FORCE WERE MASSACRED
THIS MEMORIAL IS ERECTED BY THE DUNKIRK
VETERANS ASSOCIATION AND THEIR FRIENDS
TO COMMEMORATE THIS TRADEGY
AND ITS TWO SURVIVORS

DANS CE VILLAGE LE 27 MAI 1940
97 MEMBRES DE L'EXPDITION DE L'ARMEE
BRITANNIQUE ONT ETE MASSACRES
CE MEMORIAL EST ERIGE POUR COMMEMORER
CETTE TRAGEDIE PAR L'ASSOCIATION DES VETERANS
DE DUNKERQUE, LEURS AMIS ET LES DEUX SURVIVANTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated 18 August, 2011

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