Far East prisoners gather in Yarmouth

AS Far East prisoners of war (Fepows) gathered for a reunion in Great Yarmouth over the weekend, an appeal was issued to the region's forgotten war heroes to come forward.

Pauline Simpson, Fepows' chaplain and secretary of the National Fepow Fellowship, said: 'We have become responsible for welfare now and there is money available for all sorts of things, from hospital bills to help in installing a downstairs toilet.

'There are 30 or 40 Fepows who regularly come to our events but there are still veterans of the Far East conflict out there who don't know we exist. Many came back from the war quietly and tried to forget what happened, but as time has gone on they have begun to talk about their stories - and we want to get them together.'

Mrs Simpson, whose late father Vincent was a Fepow for three and a half years, helped to organise the weekend gathering for veterans and their families who came from as far afield as Manchester and Poole in Dorset.

The 60-strong party - which included nearly 20 Fepows, some in wheelchairs - attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial on Yarmouth seafront on Saturday morning.

On Sunday, they attended a memorial service at Our Lady and St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church in Wymondham, which is home to the national memorial to Fepows.

Wreaths were laid in front of the memorial's register of names of all who had died in the Far East conflict.

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As families walking along Yarmouth seafront on Saturday morning stopped and listened to The Last Post movingly played by a lone bugler, Fellowship president Bob Hucklesby, 90, of Poole, underlined the importance of keeping alive the memory of the servicemen's sacrifice.

He said 29 of his comrades from the 560th Field Company Royal Engineers were left behind in two cemeteries in Thailand after they had been captured and put to work as Fepows on building the Thailand to Burma railway.

He supported Mrs Simpson's appeal for veterans to make themselves known to the Fellowship. They are invited to telephone her on 01692-630674.