Far east prisoners of war remembered in Swaffham service

Six men who survived the atrocities inflicted on Far East prisoners of war joined a poignant dedication service yesterday for a new memorial in Swaffham.

The red granite wedge has been added to the town's war memorial to recognise the sacrifices made by the FEPOWs from Swaffham and the surrounding area.

Survivors travelled from around the country for the dedication service in the Market Place, which was attended by about 250 people and was conducted by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James.

Among the FEPOWs was 90-year-old Stanley 'Les' Phillips, from Cambridge, who was a sergeant with the 2nd Cambridgeshires and was held captive for three and a half years.

'You would never believe what the prisoners of war went through and the atrocities they endured,' said Mr Phillips, who was responsible for 25 men building a railway and recalled how they got 'bashed' if they did not reach targets imposed by their captors.


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'We must remember those who died and congratulations to the people who have created this memorial. It is a wonderful thing to do.'

It has taken a year from the idea being conceived to the dedication service and several hurdles had to be cleared.

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Roy Fowler, honorary vice-president of Swaffham and District FEPOW Association, said: 'It has been a hard slog but it has been worth it. It is brilliant to see the six FEPOWs here today. I promised those people I would do something and if I get my teeth into something I will not let go.'

In his prayers, the Bishop remembered the 'courage, forbearance and sacrifices' that the servicemen showed to ensure today's freedom.

The Last Post was played and followed by two minutes' silence and the Reveille.

The dedication was followed by a service at St Peter and St Paul church in Swaffham.

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