Suffolk mourns fallen friends

By Richard Smith and David LennardWAR veterans and serving members of the armed forces provided a memorable sight as they paraded to a town's D-Day commemoration service.

By Richard Smith and David Lennard

WAR veterans and serving members of the armed forces provided a memorable sight as they paraded to a town's D-Day commemoration service.

The 100-strong procession set off from the Town Hall in Ipswich yesterday afternoon to St Mary-le-Tower Church for the remembrance ceremony.

The first parade contained members of the Royal British Legion, Air Gunners' Association, British Koreans Veterans' Association, Royal Air Forces Association, Sea Cadet Corps, Royal Artillery Association and the Suffolk Army Cadet Force.

It was followed by a procession that included the Lord-Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lord Tollemache, Ipswich mayor Penny Breakwell, former mayors and mayoresses, borough and county councillors and freemen of the town.

An hour-long service was then held at the church, taken by the Rev Canon Allen Willett, chaplain of Colchester and District Normandy Veterans' Association.

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After the service, a reception was held in the town hall, where Normandy veterans presented Mrs Breakwell with a plaque in honour of the occasion.

In Woodbridge, a wreath-laying ceremony was held yesterday morning at the War Memorial Gardens on the Market Hill.

There was a short parade, led by standard bearer Roy Bilby, which included members of the Royal British Legion, town mayor Russell Geen and deputy mayor Martin Sylvester, town councillors and the 1st Woodbridge Scouts.

Wreaths were laid by Tom Horton, president of the Royal British Legion's Woodbridge branch, Mr Geen and Simon Miller, 13, on behalf of the scouts.

In the afternoon war veterans paraded through the town centre to the Royal British Legion's club in the Thoroughfare, led by Kevan McCormack, rector of St Mary's Church.

There was also a ceremony at the club to dedicate wall plaques containing the names of residents who died during the Second World War.

Landguard Fort in Felixstowe also celebrated D-Day with a themed day of 1940s activities and a “memories” room where visitors could recall when the town was the port of embarkation for many troops.

Yesterday's event was rounded off with a flag-lowering ceremony, the sounding of the Last Post and a moment of remembrance.

The parish church in Rumburgh was packed yesterday as residents paid tribute to eight American airmen who died when their plane crashed 60 years ago as they prepared to support troops following the D-Day landings.

A B-24 Liberator bomber had taken off from Flixton, near Bungay, on June 7, 1944, on a mission to attack German positions in northern France.

However, the plane got into difficulties and crashed in a field at Corner Farm, Rumburgh, killing eight of the 11 crew on board.

Villagers gathered at St Michael's and St Felix's Church to pay tribute to the airmen. A plaque in their honour was dedicated by the Rev Richard Thornburgh and it was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the crash site.

Residents also lined the streets of Beccles to watch yesterday morning's D-Day procession through the town.

A lone piper played a tribute to the war heroes from the top of the church tower and a moving service of thanks and remembrance was held at the Quay.

Deputy chaplain for the eastern area, Michael Leigh-Pearson, who led the service, said: “They didn't join up to fight, they joined up to serve their sovereign and their country.”

D-Day was also commemorated at the Martlesham Heath Control Tower Museum, although a planned flypast had to be cancelled after a Spitfire was grounded with engine failure and a Hurricane crashed at Duxford air museum.

Martlesham Heath Aviation Society flypast organiser, Tarkey Barker, said: “We have had flypasts for several years and this is the first time it has not gone ahead as planned. They have always done us proud in the past.”

The museum opened two hours early yesterday to give the public more time to view the exhibits. At the time of the D-Day landings, Americans of the 359th Squadron (356th fighter group) were in one unit stationed at Martlesham Heath. A Remembrance Service was also held yesterday afternoon at St Mary's Church, Debenham, and war memorabilia was on display in Dove Cottage.

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