Belford was blessed with fine weather when hundreds were welcomed into St. Mary’s parish church for a service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Japan. The joint service with the Erskine United Reform Church brought together the families of the men from Belford in a moving hour dedicated to those that were Far Eastern Prisoners of War and who suffered so horribly at the hands of their Japanese captors.
A brief history of the Northumberland Fusiliers role in WWII in the Far East culminating with the capitulation in Singapore was given by Kerry Noble whose father was a Captain on both of Wingate’s Chindit expeditions fighting to regain Burma.
Jane Flower the daughter of the Lt. Col. Flower, who was given command of the Battalion upon surrender gave an overview of the work done by the Fusiliers whilst in captivity. Liz Loutfi, whose father, Jack Atkinson was a FEPoW, spoke about the spirit of the men and some of the humour that helped to keep them going. Memories of her father by Wilf Johnson’s daughter Marion made us feel that we all knew Wilf and felt some of his suffering and his appreciation of the simple things in life once back home.
Named for his Fusilier father, Leslie Tait, read a list of 27 local lads who were captured and reminded the congregation that these men were our fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, uncles, brothers and friends and that they fought, suffered and some died so that we could all live our lives in freedom.
At the end of the service The Northumberland Fusilier Standard was lowered and the two youngest great grandchildren of FEPoW Wilf Johnson, Logan Thompson, age 3 and Caleb Johnson age 3 months, with their fathers, laid a poppy cross upon a wall of bamboo.
Tea was served on the lawn in front of the museum which was a lovely occasion and gave the congregation a chance to meet up with old friends, make new ones and swop stories.