Suffolk remembers the fallen in Ipswich and in towns across the county
- Credit: Archant
More than a century of conflicts were remembered as Suffolk joined the rest of the country – and much of the world – to remember those who have died in the service of their country.
On a bright, cold day thousands of people turned out to Christchurch Park in Ipswich for a moving half-hour commemoration of the dead from across Suffolk.
Today’s soldiers from the Army Air Corps at nearby Wattisham air base led those who came to remember the sacrifices made by people in wars across the 20th Century and into the 21st.
The crowds at the Cenotaph were as large as most people could remember and featured contributions from youngsters as well as veterans.
Robin Vickery, from the Royal British Legion (RBL), said that this year’s remembrance particularly focussed on the battles of Arras, Ipswich’s twin town in northern France, and Passchendaele which both resulted in serious loss of life in 1917.
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Suffolk’s Lord Lieutenant Clare, Countess of Euston, laid the first wreath on the Cenotaph on behalf of The Queen before Ipswich mayor Sarah Barber, councillors, and representatives the armed services, police, and other uniformed organisations also laid wreaths.
This year’s event is seen as something of a dress rehearsal for next year which will mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
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Plans are already in hand for year of commemorations – with a major event being planned for next November in both Ipswich and across the country.
Words from the Ode of Remembrance punctuated a poignant and impeccably observed service to the fallen at Woodbridge’s war memorial, where wreaths were carried and laid by representatives of more than 50 local groups.
Woodbridge rector, Reverend Canon Kevan McCormack opened the service for wreaths to be laid by local organisations and dignitaries, including Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk, Sir Edward Greenwell.
Cliff Baldock, deputy parade marshall for the Woodbridge branch of the RBL, said: “Every year, the number of people turning out to observe Remembrance gets larger.”
Mr Baldock’s brother, Kevin, Woodbridge RBL vice chairman and parade marshall, said: “When we joined the Legion, we heard stories that Remembrance was in decline, but we now know it’s more poignant than ever, especially in light of recent conflicts and the centenary of the First World War.
“We have spoken to groups throughout the town – from the rugby club, to the rowing club and the Shufflers running club – all of which have lost members in wars.”
Woodbridge RBL president, Barrie Fisk BEM, whose grandfather was in the Suffolk Regiment and fought at Ypres in the First World War, said: “Over the past six years, attendance for the services in Woodbridge has gone from about one thousand to almost four thousand.”
Mr Fisk’s brother, Brian, laid a wreath for the Burma Star Association – for all who served in the Burma Campaign of the Second World War, including their own father.
The former Royal Army Ordnance Corps (now the Royal Logistic Corps) soldier’s son was also in attendance, having himself served in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
Elsewhere, in Levington, almost 40 people gathered at the war memorial in St. Peter’s churchyard on Armistice Day to observe a short period of Remembrance, reflection and a two-minute silence.
Parish councillor Pat Pryke said: “Remarkably, no traffic came by to disturb the quietness and the view over to the River Orwell in lovely autumn sunshine was stunning.”
The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, joined hundreds of people on Sunday at the Cenotaph in Christchurch Park, and during the afternoon preached for the Deaf Church meeting at St Nicholas, Ipswich.
He said: “Remembrance is a powerful and moving time for so many of us. We recall with deep gratitude those men and women who have given their lives for the protection of our country.
“We are so grateful that the traditions of Remembrance continue, as strong as ever, giving us time to pause and pray, to be reminded of the preciousness of so much we may take for granted, and of the terrible cost of war.”