EX-PARATROOPERS and members of the airborne forces, including representatives from the Dispatch district, attended a special memorial service to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of a soldier killed in a terrorist bomb-blast in Northern Ireland.
Sgt Michael Willetts was working in a police station in Belfast in 1971 when the explosion claimed his life. The bomb had been planted by supporters of the IRA.
Members of the Nottingham and Newark Parachute Regimental Association, along with Sgt Willetts’ family, work colleagues and friends, gathered at St Mary’s Parish Church in Blidworth for a ceremony at the graveside of the posthumous George Cross award-winner.
Former colleagues laid wreaths, a citation was read out by John Tinsley and the Last Post was sounded by award-winning trumpeter Stuart McNair.
Sgt Willetts, who was born and brought up in Sutton-in-Ashfield, served in the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. He was one of the first British Soldiers to be killed in Northern Ireland. Among those at the service were his father, Sam, his son, Dean, and daughter Kathleen Wilkes.
John Needham, president of the Nottinghamshire Parachute Regiment, labelled Sgt Willetts “a hero in every sense of the word”.