Family of Cavendish soldier receives posthumous medal in his honour

Gunner William Doe's family with the commemorative medal and scroll
Gunner William Doe's family with the commemorative medal and scroll
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A soldier from Cavendish killed in military action in Cyprus has been honoured with a commemorative medal.

Gunner William Doe was 19 years old when he died in 1956 while serving in the 50th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery during the Cyprus Emergency.

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Caldwell, Commander of Colchester Garrison; Diana Doe; and Jennifer Tolhurst

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Caldwell, Commander of Colchester Garrison; Diana Doe; and Jennifer Tolhurst

Mr Doe was killed when the vehicle he was travelling in was struck by an improvised explosive device.

His family were presented with the Elizabeth Cross and memorial scroll in recognition of his loss, at a special ceremony held at Merville Barracks, in Colchester.

Mr Doe is buried at the British Military Cemetry in Cyprus, Wayne’s Keep, while his name has been inscribed on the war memorial in Cavendish, where he grew up.

Mr Doe’s sister, Diana, flew over from Canada to accept the commemorative medal.

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“I’m very proud to receive the Elizabeth Cross in memory of my brother,” said the 87-year-old.

“When he was killed, I was working in New Zealand and not able to grieve with the family. By the time I came home two years later, they had moved on, so I just had to get on with life.

Miss Doe added: “Today has given me the chance to pay tribute to him.”

Niece Jill Toocaram was only three years old when her uncle died.

The Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll in honour of Gunner William Doe

The Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll in honour of Gunner William Doe

“I remember uncle Bill very well,” said the 64-year-old, who lives in Rashleigh Green Farm, in Castle Hedingham.

“I was very young and he used to swing me up on to his shoulders.”

Mrs Toocaram recently got in touch with her uncle’s fiancé, Lesley, who he was engaged to before he died.

Lesley, who is now in her 80s, sent letters to him every day after he was enlisted to Cyprus.

She has photographs of his sports car, which his niece discovered had been brought by an Italian buyer in 2003.

Twelve family members attended the ceremony.

“It was a fantastic day because we didn’t expect anything,” said Mrs Toocaram. “But we were made very welcome.”

“Uncle Bill was never forgotten, but it really brought him back to life.”