Two-minute interlude to recall return to peacetime

SECOND World War veterans were among those taking part in commemorations at Littlehampton, Rustington and East Preston to mark the 60th anniversary of the war ending.

The Royal Naval Association (RNA) Littlehampton branch led the ceremony at the town's war memorial, and at Rustington the event was organised by the Royal British Legion.

A piercing whistle signalled the beginning and end of the two minutes' silence at Littlehampton, as members of the service organisations, including the RNA, Littlehampton Royal British Legion branch and a Merchant Navy group remembered those who gave their lives in the war.

Members of the public also gathered to pay their respects.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Town mayor David Dyball, Arun chairman Tony Squires, RNA branch presdent Phil Brown and Littlehampton RBL chairman Doreen Prince and standard bearer David Laker placed wreaths on the war memorial. Fr Roger Caswell, vicar of St Mary's, Littlehampton, led the prayers.

Although the war in the Far East ended in August, 1945, for many, their military service continued for another year or more.

Mr Brown, 78, was serving on a naval escort carrier in the Indian Ocean when the Japanese surrendered following the atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Naga-saki.

"It didn't feel a lot different after the war finished, although there were no action stations any more. We were still in the naval routine, and when we went into harbours like Hong Kong, they were full of sunken ships.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We made two trips taking ex-prisoners-of-war home and didn't actually get home ourselves until December, 1946. We were the last carrier to go back to the United States, and had a week in New York. We didn't have any dollars, but we didn't need any, the American people were so good to us."

RNA branch chairman Tom Harrison, who is also secretary of the Littlehampton Royal British Legion branch, said the RNA took on the task of organising the event after learning that no other commemoration was planned.

"This day is the 60th anniversary of the end of hostilities in the Far East and it is important that we remember that," he said.

Others recalling their wartime service at the war memorial were Reg Hellyer, 81, who was serving on HMS Hecla when she was sunk off Casablanca in November, 1942, and Charlie Dyer, 82, who survived a German glider bomb attack on his destroyer, HMS War-spite.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Parish council chairman Dorothy Lee placed a floral tribute on East Preston's memorial, and a minute's silence was observed by those attending the village's commemoration.

Malcolm Reene, of East Preston and Kingston Royal British Legion, read the Exhortation.