A very special ceremony was held for the unveiling of a plaque in Winterborne Monkton dedicated to Captain Lionel Ernest Queripel VC of the Royal Sussex Regiment (1st Airborne Division) who gave his life in a selfless act of bravery during the Battle of Arnhem.
Captain Queripel was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his remarkable bravery and was honoured with a ceremony and plaque in St Simon and St Jude, the church where he was baptised in August 1920.
The ceremony was attended by 85 guests, with family members, representatives of the Royal Sussex and Parachute Regiments along with retired military representatives and local dignitaries gathering to honour this brave war hero.
On September 19, 1944 Acting Major Lionel Queripel died whilst covering his men’s withdrawal back into the Oosterbeek perimeter during the doomed battle of Arnhem. He had already been wounded twice while assaulting an anti-tank gun, but realising he had the enemy on three sides, ordered them to withdraw whilst he covered them.
He was last seen by his sergeant throwing grenades at the enemy. For this act he was awarded a posthumous VC.
In late 2021, two west countrymen, Peter Metcalfe and Nick Speakman, decided to start a project to have plaque installed in the village church where Lionel was born as there was no recognition of him in his birthplace.
On the 78th anniversary Lionel’s death on September 19, 2022, the project was brought to fruition in a moving service in St Simon and St Jude Church.
Peter said: “The chairman and a representative from the Parachute Regimental Association led the standards down the aisle with a replica set of his medals with the chairman carrying his sword, which had been brought to the service from the Regimental Collection for the occasion. These were placed on the altar, flanked by the standards. The plaque itself, was unveiled by Charles Norman, a family relation.
“Ten members from the Chichester, Brighton and Eastbourne Branches along with four branch standards made the long journey to Dorchester and thanks go to them for their dedication and also to Peter and Nick, without whom none of this would have been possible.”
Captain Queripel is buried in the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Arnhem, Oosterbeek in Holland.
Major Nick Speakman from the Keep Military Museum in Dorchester discovered this remarkable Victoria Cross winner, and it was decided that a ceremony and plaque would serve as a fitting tribute to honour his bravery.