Region pays respect to war dead

By Dave Gooderham, Ted Jeory, David Lennard and Sarah ChambersTHE region came to a standstill as thousands of people stopped to pay their respects to those who lost their lives during conflict.

By Dave Gooderham, Ted Jeory, David Lennard and Sarah Chambers

THE region came to a standstill as thousands of people stopped to pay their respects to those who lost their lives during conflict.

East Anglia fell silent at 11am yesterday as the region observed a two-minute silence to remember troops and civilians killed in conflict from the First World War to the latest campaign in Iraq.

A dignified hush descended upon Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds for the two-minute silence as the bells tolled on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.

War veterans, council staff, shoppers and residents alike stood silently outside St Edmundsbury Borough Council offices as prayers were said by Canon Richard Norburn.

As the bells sounded, eight standard bearers raised their flags to the sky before draping them on the ground as the town reflected on those who lost their lives.

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For some, the emotion proved too much with one woman visibly wiping away a tear with loved ones remembered.

As 14-year-old schoolboy Matthew Fletcher played the Last Post, the flags were then raised proudly and the silence came to an end.

St Edmundsbury mayor Brian Lockwood added a wreath to the war memorial, already overflowing with red tributes, before bowing his head in respect.

Ronald Day, president of the town's branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “I think the parade on Sunday and yesterday's two-minute silence was absolutely excellent and one of the best in the last few years.

“It has been very encouraging to see so many people pay their respects and maybe the Iraq War brought it back into people's minds.”

About 30 people, including Second World War veterans, observed the silence in Maldon before maroon rockets were fired over the harbour.

John Archer, chairman of Maldon District Council, said: “It was a very sombre occasion. Even the birds were silent during the two minutes and as soon as the rockets went off, they formed a 'V' for victory in the sky above.”

In Brightlingsea and West Mersea, dignitaries gathered at the war memorials to pay their respects, while in Colchester the Town Hall fell silent as maroon rockets were fired in Castle Park.

Shoppers also observed the silence at the Sainsbury superstore in Stanway, where Jennifer Coyle, a 14-year-old St Benedict's College pupil, played the Last Post.

Shops and offices in Halesworth closed at 11am and people of all ages gathered in The Thoroughfare for the two-minute silence.

Town councillors, residents and shoppers gathered at the Tuesday market in Framlingham to observe the silence, which was marked by a boom fired from Castle Meadow.

Across the Mere at Framlingham College, headteacher Gwen Randall led staff and pupils in the two-minute silence as they gathering at the front of the college to face Framlingham Castle and St Michael's Church.

They remembered particularly the 227 staff and boys from the college who lost their lives in the two world wars.

Traffic was halted in Ipswich Street, Stowmarket, as about 250 people gathered to remember those who lost their lives in conflict.

A short prayer was read out by the Rev Michael Eden of St Peter's and St Mary's Church following the two-minute silence.

Flags of the Stowmarket branches of the Suffolk Regiment, Royal Air Forces' Association and Royal British Legion were hoisted to represent some of those who have been killed over the years.

More than 300 children from four primary schools attended a poignant service at the Old Borough Cemetery in Ipswich.

The two-minute silence was observed and each pupil was given a wooden cross to place on the graves of the 131 First World War soldiers laid to rest in the cemetery.

One pupil, Ravi Mistry, 10, said: “It's important to be here to remember the people who died in the war and sacrificed their lives. I feel very sombre and sad, but also happy to be here.”

Peter Thompson, secretary of the Ipswich branch of the Royal British Legion said: “I think that this is the best service there is, it means so much to get these children involved and for them to carry on to remember.”

Standard bearers from the Royal Naval Association, Royal British Legion and Royal Marines marked the Last Post with the bowing of their flags.

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