A Second World War army officer who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his remarkable bravery will be honoured with a ceremony and plaque in St Simon and St Jude in Winterborne Monkton, the church in which he was baptised in August 1920.
Captain Lionel Ernest Queripel of the Royal Sussex Regiment (1st Airborne Division) was evacuated from Dunkirk at the fall of France in 1940, fought in the western desert at the battle of El Alamein in 1942 and died in the Battle of Arnhem. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious medal for gallantry.
He 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 recipient, and it was decided that a ceremony and plaque would serve as a fitting tribute to honour his bravery.
Peter Metcalfe, who volunteered at the Keep Military Museum, served in the Coldstream Guards in the 1960s and over the last 40 years has been repairing military graves in India and Pakistan. He has organised the plaque for Captain Queripel.
Peter has also mounted two plaques to Lt Philip Salkeld VC of the Bengal Engineers on the Salkeld Bridge at Sturminster Newton near Plumber Manor.
The unveiling ceremony is on Monday, September 19 at 2pm, by invitation only, and will mark the 78th anniversary of the day Captain Queripel was killed in action at the Battle of Arnhem.
Close family members, representatives of the Royal Sussex and Parachute Regiments along with retired military representatives and local dignitaries will be attending.
The full citation for Queripel’s Victoria Cross appeared in a supplement to The London Gazette on February 1 1945, reading:
Captain Lionel Ernest Queripel (108181), The Royal Sussex Regiment. (1st Airborne Division) (Dorchester).
“In Holland on September 19, 1944, Captain Queripel was acting as Company Commander of a composite Company composed of three Parachute Battalions.
“At 14.00 hours on that day, his company was advancing along a main road which ran on an embankment towards Arnhem.
“The advance was conducted under continuous medium machine-gun fire which, at one period, became so heavy that the company became split up on either side of the road and suffered considerable once proceeded to reorganise his force, crossing and recrossing the road whilst doing so, under extremely heavy and accurate fire. During this period he carried a wounded sergeant to the Regimental Aid Post under fire and was himself wounded in the face. “Having reorganised his force, Captain Queripel personally led a party of men against the strong point holding up the advance. This strong point consisted of a captured British anti-tank gun and two machine-guns. Despite the extremely heavy fire directed at him, Captain Queripel succeeded in killing the crews of the machine-guns and recapturing the anti-tank gun. As a result of this, the advance was able to continue.
“Later in the same day, Captain Queripel found himself cut off with a small party of men and took up a position in a ditch. By this time he had received further wounds in both arms. Regardless of his wounds and of the very heavy mortar and spandau fire, he continued to inspire his men to resist with hand grenades, pistols and the few remaining rifles.
“As, however, the enemy pressure increased, Captain Queripel decided that it was impossible to hold the position any longer and ordered his men to withdraw. Despite their protests, he insisted on remaining behind to cover their withdrawal with his automatic pistol and a few remaining hand grenades. “This is the last occasion on which he was seen.
“During the whole of a period of nine hours of confused and bitter fighting Captain Queripel displayed the highest gallantry under most difficult and trying circumstances. His courage, leadership and devotion to duty were magnificent, and an inspiration to all. This officer is officially reported to be wounded and missing.”