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Elizabeth Cross presented to family of Suffolk soldier killed in Cyprus explosion

PUBLISHED: 12:12 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:20 14 December 2017

Gunner William Doe, of the 50th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery, was killed on October 28, 1956. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Gunner William Doe, of the 50th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery, was killed on October 28, 1956. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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The family of a Suffolk soldier killed in action were presented with an Elizabeth Cross in recognition of their loss at a special ceremony yesterday.

From left: Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Caldwell, Commander of Colchester Garrison Diana Doe, and Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex. Picture: SGT LUKE CRISPFrom left: Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Caldwell, Commander of Colchester Garrison Diana Doe, and Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex. Picture: SGT LUKE CRISP

Gunner William Doe, of the 50th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery, died in Cyprus on October 28, 1956 when the vehicle he was travelling in hit an improvised explosive device (IED).

He is buried at Wayne’s Keep, the British Military Cemetery in Cyprus and his name is inscribed on the war memorial in the Suffolk village of Cavendish, where he grew up.

At a ceremony held on Wednesday, his sister Diana Doe – who now lives in Canada – said: “I’m very proud to receive the Elizabeth Cross in memory of my brother William.

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

The Elizabeth Cross is awarded to families of armed forces members killed in action. Picture: SGT LUKE CRISPThe Elizabeth Cross is awarded to families of armed forces members killed in action. Picture: SGT LUKE CRISP

“Today has given me the chance to pay tribute to him.”

She was presented with the Elizabeth Cross and a memorial scroll by Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex and Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Caldwell, Commander of Colchester Garrison.

The ceremony took place at Merville Barracks in Colchester and was attended by members of Gunner Doe’s family, most of whom are based in and around north Essex.

His niece Jennifer Toocaram, from Castle Hedingham, said: “I remember Uncle Bill very well.

Gunner Doe'’s sister Diana Doe was presented with the Elizabeth Cross and memorial scroll by Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex. Picture: SGT LUKE CRISPGunner Doe'’s sister Diana Doe was presented with the Elizabeth Cross and memorial scroll by Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex. Picture: SGT LUKE CRISP

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

“This has been a fantastic occasion to come together as a family and cherish his memory.”

The Queen introduced the Elizabeth Cross in 2009 to give recognition to bereaved families.

All families of soldiers killed in action or as a result of a terror attack since January 1, 1948 are eligible to receive them.

Gunner Doe's family collecting the Elizabeth Cross. Picture: SGT LUKE CRISPGunner Doe's family collecting the Elizabeth Cross. Picture: SGT LUKE CRISP

Gunner Doe was one of the 371 British military personnel killed during the Cyprus Emergency, an operation which lasted from 1955 to 1959.

Militants from the Greek Cypriot group led a campaign to remove the British from Cyprus so that it could be unified with Greece, which resulted in the island being granted independence from British Empire rule in 1960.

In total, more than 450 people were killed.

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