Emotional pilgrimage to find the army boy who never came home

HE was the hero who never came home.

Saturday, 9th April 2016, 6:21 am
Rivka Cresswell at the grave of Ronald Carpenter in Israel

But, after a wait of 69 years, the people of Havant borough paid their respects to the bravery of Ronald Carpenter.

A wreath was laid at Ronald’s grave in Israel on behalf of the people of the borough.

His was one of eight names added to Havant’s war memorial last month following research by the council, led by Mayor Leah Turner. All of the men died in conflicts since the Second World War, but Ronald was the only serviceman whose body did not come home to Britain.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Born in Havant in 1925, he died fighting for peace-keeping forces in Palestine on May 13, 1947. He was aged just 21.

Rivka Cresswell, a councillor for Emsworth, is originally from Israel and takes a trip there every year. She decided to visit the cemetery where Ronald’s grave is found.

The cemetery, between Ramla and Lod, is on land given to The War Graves Commission.

It has graves from 3,500 people, including soldiers from Great Britain, France, Poland and Israel, who died from 1912 onwards.

Following a long search, Rivka was very moved when she finally found the grave.

She said: ‘It was a bit of achievement really – I was so desperate to find it.

‘I was emotional. I thought I was probably the only person that has visited his grave knowing anything about him.’

Rivka emailed the pictures back home to Leah, who was in the Mayor’s parlour in Havant at the time.

Leah said: ‘The tears welled up.

‘She went out of her way to find his grave for us. It really tugged at my heartstrings.

‘That’s how much it means to me. He was the only one of our boys who didn’t come home.’

She added: ‘There is an error or his gravestone which we knew about, so it says D.E. when it should be R.E. For Ronald Edward.’

A service took place in March at St Faith’s Church to honour the sacrifice of the men who died in conflicts since 1945.

Those remembered were: Ronald Carpenter, 21, Royal Army Ordinance Corps, who died in Palestine in 1947; Royal Marine Graham Cox, 19, killed in Northern Ireland in 1973; Michael Foote, 23, Royal Navy, who died aboard HMS Ardent in the Falklands, in 1982; Paul Callus, 24, Royal Navy, who was killed on HMS Coventry at the Falklands, in 1982; Steven Wilson, 23, Parachute Regiment, killed in Northern Ireland in 1989; Robert Bob’ Consiglio, 24, SAS, killed in Iraq in 1991; Elijah Bond, Royal Engineers, 24, killed in Afghanistan in 2011; David O’Connor, 27, Royal Marine, killed in Afghanistan in 2012.