Thousands remember war dead

TOWNS and villages across East Anglia fell momentarily silent yesterday as crowds gathered to remember those who lost their lives in battle.This year's annual Remembrance Sunday services attracted thousands of people across Suffolk and Essex and seemed all the more poignant in light of the recent conflict in Iraq.

By Danielle Nuttall

TOWNS and villages across East Anglia fell momentarily silent yesterday as crowds gathered to remember those who lost their lives in battle.

This year's annual Remembrance Sunday services attracted thousands of people across Suffolk and Essex and seemed all the more poignant in light of the recent conflict in Iraq.

Ipswich's Christchurch Park was the setting for the town's official service and saw generations of soldiers and their families gather in chilly temperatures in front of the Cenotaph.

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The Ipswich Salvation Army band led the procession towards the war monument shortly before 11am before trumpets sounded the Last Post.

Ipswich mayor Penny Breakwell then began the wreath-laying ceremony, which involved local dignitaries and representatives of the Royal British Legion and Royal Navy among others.

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

In Stowmarket, the Royal British Legion marched from the town square to the memorial gates at the recreational ground for the laying of wreaths.

A special service was held in the parish church of St Peter and St Mary at 10.30am and at noon, three helicopters from Three Regiment Army Air Corps at Wattisham flew past just after the national anthem had finished.

Retired Lt Col Ted Champion, president of the Stowmarket branch of the Royal British Legion, said: "It's been a lovely occasion and went very well. I think the weather helped enormously this year."

In Needham Market, a service took place St John's Baptist Church before the wreath laying commenced at the churchyard war memorial off Barrett's Lane.

Needham Mayor Paula Batchelor said: "We always get a good turn out and it was a packed church.

"Representatives from the town council, Army Air Corps at Wattisham and scouts and beavers were all there."

Yesterday was the first time the new memorial at Barking and Darmsden had been used to remember loved ones lost in conflict.

The memorial has the names of the 21 people from the villages who did not return from the world wars and was built as a way of marking the end of the Millennium.

It was dedicated during yesterday's special service on the Tye, near the watertower, at 2.15pm.

Hadleigh's Remembrance Sunday parade began at George Street at 2pm and was led by Stowmarket Boys' Brigade band.

Wreaths were laid at the town's memorial and the parade commenced along Station Road and High Street to St Mary's Church for a special service.

In Shotley, residents assembled at St Mary's Church for a 10.45am service before wreath laying began at the naval cemetery.

Eddie Bembridge, chairman of the Shotley and Erwarton branch of the Royal British Legion, said the church managed to seat everyone who attended despite an area being cordoned off while repair work takes place.

"It was absolutely brilliant," he added.

Dozens of people also attended a church service in Leiston for Remembrance Sunday.

The service was held at St Margaret's Church and was conducted by the Rev Richard Ellis.

Retired priest the Rev Chris Gonin, who preached during the service, said: "There were a number of organisations presenting wreaths and it was an almost full church. It was a very nice service and a lot of young people were there."

In Framlingham, the parade marched from New Road to the war memorial outside St Michael's Church.

Before the church service began, the rector Richard Willcox read the names of those who had fallen.

Those who had gathered in Aldeburgh for Remembrance Sunday observed a two-minute silence at the war memorial near Moot Hall before continuing to the parish church of St Peter and St John for a service.

Mayor Felicity Bromage said: "We were very lucky the weather was quite kind to us compared to last year.

"It's always a bit risky when you stand at a war memorial near the beach."

In Saxmundham, the annual Remembrance Sunday parade made its way from Market Place to the United Reform Church for a service at 3pm.

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

Bury St Edmunds came to a standstill as hundreds lined the streets to remember those who lost their lives in the two World Wars and other armed conflicts.

Veterans and current servicemen paid their respects alongside members of the public at the town's Angel Hill.

A barrage of instruments, from brass to bagpipes, greeted visitors as veterans from the Royal British Legion emerged from the Abbey Gate and marched to the town's War Memorial.

Following them were serving colleagues from the Army, Navy and Air Force while representatives from the region's two USAF bases, RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, were also present.

Prayers were said to loved ones lost before the traditional Last Post filled the Suffolk skies and a two-minute silence was impeccably observed by the watching masses.

A Remembrance Day service was also held in Great Cornard as members of the Royal British Legion, scouts, cubs and brownies and also parish councillors took part in a parade, service and wreath-laying.

It was a similar scene in Sudbury where residents, including South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo, lined the streets to watch the ceremony.

Meanwhile, a plaque in memory of nine villagers who died in the two world wars was dedicated in a service at Walpole, near Halesworth, attended by members of the Royal British legion.

About 60 people were in the congregation for a service conducted by Rev Tony Norton, team vicar of the Halesworth ministry.

Research on the nine who died - five in the First World War and four in the Second World War - was carried out by David Holmes and Brian Fowle.

The main Remembrance Day service in the Halesworth area took place yesterday afternoon in the town church and was conducted by the curate, Rev Ian Byrne.

About 200 people - many of them from Royal British Legion branches in Halesworth and the surrounding villages – took part in a parade to the church through The Thoroughfare, lead by a piper.

Afterwards a ceremony took place in front of the war memorial where wreaths were laid and the Last Post was played on the pipes.

Other services and parades also took place in towns and villages across Suffolk.

Meanwhile in Essex, Colchester MP Bob Russell said the service at the Colchester war memorial was the largest crowd he had seen in more than 30 years.

Ten Essex based soldiers were killed in the Iraq conflict and currently a handful of Colchester soldiers are still on duty in the Gulf. A contingent from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment are due to head out there later this month.

Mr Russell, who on Saturday night attended the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in his role as parliamentary adviser to the charity, was among a number of local dignitaries at the morning ceremony.

The Band of the Parachute Regiment provided the music for the service and the mayor's chaplain, Father Peter Walker, and Monsignor David Manson lead the prayers.

Other guests included Col Tony Barton, Commander of Colchester Garrison, North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin and Vice-Chancellor of Essex University, Ivor Crewe.

In Harwich, a number of standard bearing organisations, including the Royal British Legion and the Harwich Merchant Navy group joined dignitaries for a march from the legion headquarters in the town to St Nicholas Church.

The service was also attended by about a dozen of the crew from HMS Radar, a Royal Navy patrol ship, currently docked in Harwich.

In Dedham the service of remembrance began at the war memorial and, after the silence at 11am, was followed by a march past. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the parish council, the Village Association, ex-servicemen and women, St John Ambulance and the Dedham Primary School.

A small turfed area was available on the step of the memorial for wooden crosses to be placed by members of the public.

Other wreath laying services and remembrance parades were held in towns and villages across Essex, including Brightlingsea, Coggeshall, Halstead, Maldon, Tiptree, Tollesbury, Tolleshunt D'Arcy, West Mersea and Wivenhoe.

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