PICTURES: Great Yarmouth racecourse remembers

Silence fell over Great Yarmouth Racecourse today at a ceremony honouring a group of men killed in bomb explosions during the second world war.

A plaque was unveiled dedicated to five servicemen who lost their lives in two separate explosions in the town in 1940.

All died during mine laying operations on North Beach just a short distance from the racetrack as the threat of German invasion loomed.

The first blast, on July 13, killed lance sergeant Charles Gunnell, 26, and private Frederick Wright, 20, both of the 4th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment.

The later explosion on October 17 claimed the lives of sappers Bernard Cambers, 19, Dennis Cooke, 22, and John Pratt, 22, of Field Company, Royal Engineers.

The plaque was unveiled by Yarmouth mayor Michael Jeal and 92-year-old Sidney Gibbs who witnessed the blast that killed his two comrades. At the time Mr Gibbs, from Caister, was serving as a corporal with the Royal Norfolk's and stationed at the racecourse.

The commemoration was organised by Ken Read, a former civilian explosives worker with close connections to the Royal Engineers.

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Mr Read said: 'Those that are commemorated were killed doing their duty to protect our shores and our people from the very real threat of invasion in 1940. There sacrifice was just as real as the sacrifice of the thousands who perished abroad.'

Standards were paraded by representatives from the Royal Norfolk Regiment Association, Royal Engineers Association and the Royal British Legion and Memorable Order of Tin Huts. The dedication service and prayers were conducted by the Rev Arthur Bowles.

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