Digital ‘Cry For Peace’ and socially distanced memorial service as Chatteris commemorates 75th anniversary of VJ Day
- Credit: Archant
A digital ‘Cry For Peace’ and socially distanced memorial service were among the ways that Chatteris commemorated the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.
Chatteris Town Crier Lawrence Weetman published a pre-recorded cry to the internet shortly after 11am on August 15 because the cry could not go ahead publicly due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and concerns about social distancing.
A short memorial service was later held at Chatteris war memorial, but without the familiar sound of bugles or standard bearers.
Tina Prior, of the Chatteris branch of the Royal British Legion, said it was an “excellent service” with a “great turn out from the community (social distancing) with around 30 people gathering in the areas around the memorial”.
She added that Margaret Billimore, Cllr Ian Benney and David Kelley gave “poignant and moving personal accounts” while branch and standard bearers “carried out their duties from the safety of their own gardens.”
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She said the service began with the exhortation, a two minutes silence, followed by the Kohima epitaph.
Branch chairman Norman Larke BEM lead the proceedings, talking about the events of VJ Day and what many veterans endured in the Far East.
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He then read a piece written by Margaret Billimore, whose father, Dudley Paul, and her uncle, Alfred Russel Paul, both served in the Far East.
Deputy mayor Ian Benney then spoke about his family experiences - with his paternal uncle and his own personal memories of local men who he knew that had spent time in the Far East.
Branch member Dave Kelley also spoke about his uncle who had served in the RAF and sadly crashed.
Prayers were taken by Rev Canon Wendy Thomson, including The Far East Prisoners of War Prayer.
A wreath was laid by Margaret Billimore and a wooden cross by Dave Kelley before everyone was thanked for their attendance.
Chatteris Town Crier Lawrence Weetman said: “I am proud to once again be helping to commemorate the anniversary of another important date in the history of World War II.
“While VE Day is a commonly-known celebration of the end of bloodshed here in the United Kingdom and across Europe, very few people know about the significance of VJ Day or the involvement of brave British soldiers in finally bringing the war to a complete end.
“The poem that Town Criers have collectively cried out across the world gives a short explanation of VJ Day and the ‘for gotten army’.
“I hope that this recognition will bring some comfort to the families of these brave men, who often feel forgotten themselves as we celebrate anniversaries of other dates relating to the war.”