‘A reunion like no other’: Heroes honoured at special service
PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 October 2020
The format may have had to change amid the continuing coronavirus crisis, but it did not prevent the brave service of sailors in the Second World War from being remembered.
Heroes who gave their lives during the Second World War were honoured as the Royal Naval Patrol Service Association (RNPSA) held their 45th annual service of remembrance at Belle Vue Park in Lowestoft, where a memorial to fallen service members is based.
During the Second World War, the town was the central depot of the RNPSA, as the men – who manned the minesweepers and escort vessels and saw service in all waters of the world – carried out duties to keep vital supply lines open
Leo Whisstock, national secretary of the RNPSA, said: “We have had to change the format of what we usually do because of Covid-19.
“We are unable to follow the remembrance service with a sunset ceremony in Sparrow’s Nest Gardens because of problems with distancing.
“Each year there are fewer veterans attending the service but we definitely know that one 98-year-old from Portsmouth is here.
“Relatives travel here from all over the country as the service is thought of very highly.
“We are grateful to Padre Michael Lee–Pearson from the Royal Navy Association in Beccles for stepping in to lead the service at the last minute after illness of the Association’s padre.
“We gave him the option to cut the service down as he saw fit if the weather deteriorated – but everyone agreed that it should go ahead as planned.
“This is our 45th annual service of remembrance.
“We are going to carry on until the last man standing. We owe it to the men who were lost to keep their memory alive.”
Addressing the gathering Association President Cmdr G Titmus, said: “This year we have a reunion like no other.
“Circumstances have made it impossible to have a memorial service and parade and the accompanying social activities that we have enjoyed so much in the past.
“Some people have commented that what we are experiencing with Covid is comparable to being at war, but with all due respect I think they are wrong.
“Between August 1939 and May 1945 the Patrol Service reached a manpower level of over 60,000.
“That’s twice the size of today’s Royal Navy, not far short of the current population of Lowestoft.
“It is probable that every member of the Patrol Service went through the headquarters establishment HMS Europa here in Lowestoft.
“On the memorial here there are the names of 2,385 shipmates of the Royal Naval Patrol Service who lost their lives in the service and they have no other grave than the sea.
“We are here today to remember them and to keep the memory of ‘Harry Tate’s Navy’ alive.”
With wreaths laid, the Mayor of Lowestoft, Alan Green, added: “Strong links still exist between the town and the Patrol Service and the Town Council on behalf of the people of Lowestoft is proud to be associated with the Patrol Service.
“The part they played serving their country should not and will not be forgotten.”
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