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Lidgate's forgotten war heroes honoured at last

Seventy-four years after the end of World War Two, the names of three soldiers who died in the conflict have finally been added to a village war memorial.

To mark the addition of the names, villagers in Lidgate held a service at St Mary’s Church and churchyard on Sunday to rededicate the War Memorial ahead of the Remembrance Day commemorations on November 10.

Representatives of regimental associations and local Royal British Legion members attend along with descendants and families of the three men – Second Lieutenant Richard Dewing, Private Ivan Hazell and Trooper Thomas Benge.

Janet Mitson, Keith Hogan and Vanessa Watchman at Lidgate Memorial (20413065)
Janet Mitson, Keith Hogan and Vanessa Watchman at Lidgate Memorial (20413065)

2ndLt Dewing served with the 1st Bn The Rifle Brigade and was killed in action, aged 21, in a night reconnaissance operation during the battle of Gazala before the fall of Tobruk to the axis powers in May 1942. He was buried at Acroma, Libya.

Pte Hazell, who had only recently joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment, was just 18 when he died from an infectious disease while training at Colchester Barracks, one of a number of young soldiers in the same barracks who fell ill and died.

Trooper Benge was the oldest of the trio, a married man of 28 with a son, Tony, who will be at Sunday’s service. He was serving with the 17th/21 Lancers Royal Armoured Corps when he died of wounds sustained at the Battle of the River Gari during the Italian Campaign in May 1944. His grave is in Caserta War Cemetery.

Following exhaustive inquiries, the Friends of Lidgate Churchyard have finally proved to the War Memorials Trust that the men’s names do not appear on a memorial anywhere else in the UK.

The Ven Dr David Jenkins, Archdeacon of Sudbury, conducted the service which also celebrated the recent cleaning of the War Memorial.

The restoration and addition of the names has been possible thanks to fund-raising by the Friends of Lidgate Churchyard and grants from organisations including Lidgate Parish Council, Suffolk County Council Locality Budget and St Edmundsbury Borough Council as well as private donations.

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