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Honouring those who fought for freedom

PUBLISHED: 15:05 05 May 2015 | UPDATED: 15:05 05 May 2015

A child and her mother walk among the graves at the Colleville American military cemetery, in Colleville sur Mer, western France, Thursday June 6, 2013, on the day of the commemoration of the 69th anniversary of the D-Day.(AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

A child and her mother walk among the graves at the Colleville American military cemetery, in Colleville sur Mer, western France, Thursday June 6, 2013, on the day of the commemoration of the 69th anniversary of the D-Day.(AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

Starting today, we launch a project to honour those from our region lost in the Second World War by, for the first time, assembling a complete roll of honour for the fallen. Here, JASPER COPPING outlines the scheme, and explains how readers can get involved to help.

While VE Day did not quite mark an end to the Second World War and the death and destruction it had unleashed, the utter defeat of Nazi Germany was a significant step towards drawing to a close this awful chapter of the twentieth century.

By the time the fighting around the globe had finally stopped, with the surrender of Japan, this most calamitous conflict the world had ever seen had claimed more than 50 million lives.

In our region, the losses were heavy. Men had gone off to fight, never to return. Others – along with women and children – had stayed at home but had been killed in air raids, as new technologies meant that war could be waged on the home front in a way that it never had been before.

To honour these losses, the EDP is today launching a major project: to assemble a full roll of honour for our region, listing the names of all those who lost their lives in this colossal struggle.

Although the details of the dead are all recorded, in towns and villages across East Anglia, no complete roll exists. We have started the task of amassing the names from available sources and, starting today, are reproducing these in print.

But we want readers help to allow us to complete the roll. Once this is achieved, we can make it available for the public. Already, this sad toll has reached almost 8,000 names, which we publish from today.

These have come from a variety of sources. For the 1,700 Norwich war dead, we have reproduced a roll drawn up after the end of the conflict and kept at the Millennium Library. For the 3,000 from our region of northern Suffolk, we have relied upon a list compiled in the county and kept at the Suffolk Regiment Museum, in Bury St Edmunds.

But for the rest of Norfolk and for the Cambridgeshire Fens, the information is more piecemeal and we have had to scour many different available sources, including the volunteer-run Roll of Honour website. In some cases, we have visited village and town war memorials to transcribe names.

Such a fragmentary approach is, we recognise, bound to leave omissions – which is why we need our readers’ help.

Furthermore, where we have successfully tracked down and transcribed a list, there may be names missing.

Even when these rolls were first assembled, errors were made. This project will make good those errors after several decades and bring the information up to date.

We pledge that over the course of this project, not one name will be overlooked, because each one tells a story, each one is a human tragedy and each one needs recording.

If you can help with our project by providing information about names missing from the rolls, please send the details to VE@archant.co.uk or write to Second World War Roll of Honour, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE

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