Prisoners of war remembered in dedicated Great Yarmouth service
- Credit: Nick Butcher
They have been known as the forgotten army, but the Far East Prisoner of War Association (FEPOW) in Great Yarmouth were not forgotten today, as a crowd gathered at the FEPOW Memorial Clock on Marine Parade to pay their respects to those who, as a result of their captivity in the Far East, gave the ultimate sacrifice.
On-lookers were moved to tears as Eddie Hunn, one of the last surviving FEPOWs, gave a poignant speech.
Mr Hunn, who is from Great Yarmouth, joined the Territorial Army in 1939 and was sent to fight the Japanese in the Pacific, where he was captured as a FEPOW.
He was one of an estimated 60,000 prisoners of war who worked on the 258-mile Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, which was constructed between Ban Pong, Thailand, and Thanbyuzayat, Burma - running through Singapore - so that Japan could support its forces in the Second World War Burma campaign.
One in four men died constructing the Death Railway Mr Hunn said, if not from exhaustion then from illness.
“I appreciate you all coming, if my comrades were here they would not believe we’d have such a service today,” said 95-year-old Mr Hunn.
“It’s lovely to see you all here but we must remember them every day, not just in November,” he added.
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After the service, led by FEPOW chaplain Pauline Simpson, Mr Hunn said: “It’s so overwhelming every time we come. All of these people lost their lives, and I am concerned that conflicts are still going on today, we have to recognise those too.
“But I’m glad I can be here, it’s a great honour for me to come with my son, Kevin, and his wife Denise, because it used to just be around half a dozen people and now there are many more, we’re very fortunate that people turn out.”
Mrs Simpson, whose father was a FEPOW, added: “It just seems to increase year on year, and this memorial clock is so special. It’s the only one of its kind.
“This year is particularly special because of the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, it’s great that the nation is finally recognising not only that day alongside V Day but also the FEPOWs, they are no longer the ‘forgotten army’.”
During the service wreaths were laid by many, including the Mayor of Great Yarmouth Cllr Shirley Weymouth, Great Yarmouth Borough council leader Cllr Graham Plant, and Mr Hunn also laid a wreath.
• See your Great Yarmouth Mercury on Friday, November 13, for more on the FEPOW service and others, including more on Mr Hunn, photographs and a special 6-page Remembrance Sunday round up.