Great Yarmouth falls silent for second time to honour POWs
16:28 11 November 2012
Great Yarmouth fell silent for a second time today (Sunday) to honour and remember the thousands of veterans who fought and suffered in the far east.
A special service for the Far East Prisoners of War (Fepow) took place on the seafront, and dozens of people attended to pay their respects to those who were imprisoned by the Japanese from 1941 - 45.
The congregation circled the Fepow memorial clock on Marine Parade to sing hymns, observe a silence and lay wreathes.
Among the assembled crowd was 91 year old veteran Bert Major, who is now chairman of the Great Yarmouth Fepow Association.
Mr Major spent four years as a prisoner of war, suffering from malaria and beriberi – a debilitating condition caused by thiamine deficiency - before he was liberated by British commandos in August 1945.
The Gorleston resident welcomed all those who had gathered for the service and told the congregation to “enjoy the wonderful service” as there was much to remember.
Pauline Simpson, chaplain for the association, led the service through prayers and hymns and told how her father was a Fepow.
She said: “Many of us here today are second hand keepers of the memory of Singapore. Some of us are here because our fathers, grandfathers, uncles were prisoners of war in the far east.
“And as the daughter of a Fepow and now as chaplain surviving Fepows my knowledge of what people went through and suffered so terribly during the three and a half years of brutal captivity, is conditioned.
“Not by my direct memory but by listening to my father and reading heart rendering memoirs. We should be grateful of such accounts because most survivors of that dreadful period have chosen not to speak about it.
“So today we give thanks to those veterans who gave their all, who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
In a clearly emotional speech Mr Major read the Fepow prayer before closing the service and again thanking all those who had turned out to remember he and his fellow veterans.
He said: “It’s so pleasant to see the number of standard bearers present and in the corner the young cubs. Thank you all for coming.”