Servicemen mark Veterans' Day

VETERANS and serving soldiers remembered fallen heroes and celebrated the efforts of all servicemen yesterday.

Elliot Furniss

VETERANS and serving soldiers remembered fallen heroes and celebrated the efforts of all servicemen yesterday.

The third annual Veterans' Day was marked by special services in Colchester and at Wattisham Airfield.

In Colchester, a service was held at St Peter's Church on North Hill, which followed a march down the High Street.

Among those paying tribute were town's MP Bob Russell, Colchester Garrison Commander Colonel Tony Phillips and town mayor Peter Crowe.

The service of thanksgiving featured a two-minute silence, signalled by a bugler playing the Last Post, and two performances by the choir of the town's Sixth Form College.

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During the service, the Right Reverend Christopher Morgan, Bishop of Colchester, spoke passionately about the sacrifices and contributions made by former servicemen.

Afterwards, Mr Crowe welcomed the guests to Town Hall for refreshments and said it was a “fantastic” event for the town's many veterans.

He said the deaths of six soldiers from the town in Afghanistan over the past three weeks had “added a certain poignancy” to the day.

Col Phillips said it was very important for the civic and civilian community of the town to show they were “right behind” the serving and former soldiers.

Mr Russell said: “I congratulate everybody involved in putting on the parade and the service and particular thanks goes to the Royal British Legion.”

Terry Sutton, former Colchester mayor and president of the Royal British Legion Colchester Branch, said the organisation was offering full support to the families of the soldiers from the town that died this month.

Veterans Graham Reeves, 72, and Derek Oliver, 73, both welcomed the move to celebrate Veterans' Day and said it was another chance for former servicemen to get together.

“It certainly doesn't take much to do a thing like this - it keeps us all in touch,” said Mr Reeves.

“The service was quite moving, really. Obviously, recent events have made a lot of people aware of what goes on.”

More than 80 veterans were at Wattisham Airfield, where the day was marked by a helicopter flypast.

The Ipswich branches of The Royal Naval Association, The British Korean Veterans Association and The Royal British Legion, as well as The Royal British Legion branch in Needham Market were represented at the ceremony.

It took the form of a church service followed by a tour round the airfield where the veterans were shown the old and new Apache Helicopters currently stationed at Wattisham, as well as the airfield's museum.

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