Silent tribute to fallen heroes

THE region momentarily fell silent yesterday as crowds gathered to remember those who have lost their lives in battle.Thousands of people across Suffolk and Essex attended Remembrance Sunday services in towns and villages to pay respect to those who have lost their lives fighting for their country.

THE region momentarily fell silent yesterday as crowds gathered to remember those who have lost their lives in battle.

Thousands of people across Suffolk and Essex attended Remembrance Sunday services in towns and villages to pay respect to those who have lost their lives fighting for their country.

Christchurch Park in Ipswich was the setting for the town's official service and saw generations of soldiers and their families gather on a bright sunny day in front of the Cenotaph.

The Anglian Regiment First Battalion, accompanied by bands from the Salvation Army and Boys Brigade, led the procession towards the war monument shortly before 11am. Ipswich Mayor Roger Fern began the wreath laying ceremony, which involved local dignitaries and representatives from the Royal Navy, Suffolk police and Suffolk fire service among others.

The service was conducted by the Rev Canon Allen Willett, who himself served with the 146 Field Ambulance.

Peter Thompson, chairman of Ipswich British Legion, said: "There must have been over 3,000 people there. It was a beautiful day and we had a great turnout. I think it was encouraged by the fact that the monument has been completely refurbished and for the first time the names of those that died in the Second World War have been included on the plaques."

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In Stowmarket, the Royal British Legion marched from the Market Place to the memorial gates of the recreational ground for the laying of the wreaths. This was followed by a helicopter flypast from Three Regiment Army Air Corps at Wattisham.

A special service, taken by Rev Michael Eden, was held in the parish church of St Peter and St Mary beforehand and was attended by Mayor Gordon Paton and Lord Lieutenant Lord Tollenache.

Representatives from the Royal British Legion, Army Air Corps, army cadets, sea cadets, fire service, scouts, guides and St John Ambulance also took part in the parade, which was headed by the Boys Brigade Band.

Mr Paton said: "It was a very moving service and the British Legion were well turned out as usual. It was very pleasing to see so many young people involved, there really was a good mix of generations."

Large crowds also gathered at the Cenotaph in Felixstowe to remember those who had fallen in past conflicts.

The United Reformed Church in the town was packed for a service taken by Rev Nick Mark at 9.45am, which was followed by a march to the memorial at 10.50am.

Mayor Don Smith said: "I was really struck by the great number of people who turned up for the service to remember the dead. It was a touching occasion."

Bury St Edmunds came to a standstill as scores of people lined the streets to pay their respects as the traditional procession moved from the Abbey Gate to the war memorial on the historic Angel Hill.

Veterans marched proudly alongside serving colleagues from RAF Honington and the region's two American bases at Lakenheath and Mildenhall before a silence was impeccably observed and the wreath-laying ceremonies began.

In Newmarket, members of the Royal British Legion were joined by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring, who laid a wreath at the memorial near the clock tower in memory of those who have lost their lives in conflicts around the world. The event was followed by a special service at the town's Tattersalls.

"The act of remembrance of those who have given so much and paid the ultimate price is not diminished by the passing of the years," said Mr Spring.

"I pay tribute to the Royal British Legion which does so much to ensure that Remembrance Day remains our most important national day."

Veterans in Mildenhall laid 32 wreaths at the town's war memorial as around 350 people looked on. Americans stood side-by-side with Royal British Legion members and young people in a town where the traditional parade marked the end of four days of remembrance events.

The roll of honour was called at Mildenhall's war memorial before the groups marched to St Mary's Church for a service led by Rev Anthony Spencer and attended by dignitaries from Forest Heath District Council.

"We had more people around the war memorial than we have had for a very long time," said British Legion Secretary John Barker. "It was a very, very successful day, and could not have been better."

In Sudbury, a traditional parade and wreath-laying ceremony took place, with representatives from the American and British forces both present.

The well-attended event also saw youngsters from the army cadets, army training corps and St John's Ambulance also turn out.

In Colchester, a huge crowd gathered at the war memorial by the castle gates to remember the town's war dead.

A procession of current servicemen and veterans led the way up the High Street from the town hall and were followed by a civic procession including the mayor, Colchester MP Bob Russell and north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin.

The second procession arrived at 11am in time for the two minute silence.

Brain Simon, president of Colchester Royal British Legion, read the act of remembrance and scripture was read by Bob Finch, of Churches Together in Colchester. Colchester Garrison chaplin Rev Mike Stevenson led the prayers.

At least 30 wreathes were laid at the war memorial, started by Colchester mayor John Bouckley and followed by brigadier Jacko Page, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade and colonel Tony Barton, commander of Colchester Garrison.

Groups including the Royal British Legion and current military personnel also laid wreathes.

The Parachute Regiment band played throughout the inspection then both processions continued back to the town hall where the mayor took the salute.

Mr Russell said: "It was a great occasion of commemoration and thanksgiving and to remember not just two world wars but indeed other conflicts such as at this particular time what is happening in Iraq.

"I would suggest it was the biggest attendance in the more than 30 years that I have been going to the service.

"I didn't count but I would hazard a guess that there was about 2,000 people there."

In Harwich, a procession left the Royal British Legion Club in Barrack Lane and processed to St Nicholas Church for a civic service.

The parade left at 2.30pm and included representatives from HMS Radar which was in port yesterday, the Royal Naval Association and Harwich and District Merchant Navy Association.

Wreathes were also laid at earlier services at the Minesweepers' Memorial on Dovercourt seafront and the war memorial at the top of Fronks Road, Dovercourt.

People of all ages gathered in Southwold, with the parade from the town hall to the war memorial outside St Edmund's Church led by the Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums.

Those taking part in the parade included the men's and women's sections of the Southwold and Reydon Royal British Legion, Southwold fire crew, coastguards, members of the town's RNLI, Red Cross, Southwold army cadets and air corps, 1st Southwold Guides, 1st Southwold Brownies, Reydon and Southwold Rainbows and the Trefoil Guild.

Southwold Mayor Geraldine Bryant and deputy mayor Sue Allen led town and district councillors in the parade that also included former independent MP and BBC war correspondent Martin Bell.

When the parade reached the war memorial there was a two-minute silence and wreath laying ceremony before a service at St Edmund's Church.