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Hatfield & Merksplas Twinning Association

The Hatfield & Merksplas Twinning Association was set up by the Town Council in 2007 (as a separate organisation) through its links with Corporal Harper VC, who was killed in Belgium in the Second World War (see below for more information on Corporal Harper). 

The Association's aim is to contribute to a better understanding between the nations of Europe, the development of European Unity and a society of freedom and peace.

Merksplas signingThere have been exchange visits including football teams, Hatfield Band and schools and on 14 August 2010 the Town Mayor signed the formal twinning agreement at a ceremony held in Merksplas.  The Headteacher of Hatfield Woodhouse Primary School presented "friendship" boxes to the people of Merksplas, which had been prepared by the children of Hatfield Woodhouse school.  The Twinning ceremony was also attended by delegates from Grodzisk in Poland and Delligsen in Germany who also have links with Merksplas.

The Association was invited to share in the 65th Anniversary of Liberation celebrations on 19/20 September 2009 and during the celebrations, a visit was made to the memorial to Corporal Harper VC.

If your organisation is interested in forming links with counterparts in Merksplas, please contact the Town Clerk (Secretary of the Association) on 01302 840347.

Twinning Charter 1

 Twinning Charter 2

 

  Victoria CrossCORPORAL HARPER VC

 

One of our most well known local heroes is, of course, Corporal J W Harper who was the only Yorkshireman to be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War II. He was born in Hatfield on 6 August 1916, the son of George Harper, himself a corporal in the Royal Garrison Artillery during the Great War, serving on the Somme, Types and Loos. He attended Hatfield Woodhouse school and met and married a local girl, Lily Marshall. He enlisted into the York and Lancaster Regiment in 1940 and lost his life on 29 September 1944, aged 29, whilst in action in Depot-de-Mendicite, France and is buried in the Leopoldsburg British War Cemetery in Belgium. He was, therefore, awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. Corporal Harper’s actions were recorded in the London Gazette as follows:- “The success of the Battalion in driving the enemy from the wall and back across the dyke must be ascribed to the superb self sacrifice and inspiring gallantry of Corporal Harper. His magnificent courage, fearlessness and devotion to duty throughout the battle set an example to his men, rarely equalled. Such conduct in the face of direct close range enemy fire could have but one result but before he was killed, Corporal Harper, by his heroism, had ensured success for his Battalion in a most important action. The success of the attack on the Depot de Mendicite can be fairly attributed to the outstanding bravery of Corporal Harper.”

You can see a memorial to Corporal Harper in Hatfield Cemetery.