Remembrance Sunday: Teasured memories of lost friends
Treasured memories of friends and relatives who made the ultimate sacrifice will be running through the minds of veterans of all ages this weekend.
Young and old will be gathering at war memorials and churches across West Norfolk this Remembrance Sunday, November 11, to mark the price paid by men and women in service to their country.
And veterans who served in conflicts ranging from World War II to the Falklands have spoken of what the annual commemoration of the nation’s war dead means to them.
Cyril Route is one of the area’s surviving World War II veterans and is still doing his bit by giving up his mornings to sell poppies.
He served with the celebrated Desert Rats in their North African campaign, including the important battle of El Alamein, as well as Sicily and Italy.
And Cyril, who lives with his wife Joan in Alice Fisher Crescent, North Lynn, said: “Remembrance Day means a lot. All those people lost their lives, its terrible. We were the lucky ones.”
Cyril signed up to fight in 1942 at the age of 18 when he joined the Royal Norfolks.
After training, Cyril was sent over to North Africa, which was strategically important to Britain as it provided access to the rich oil fields in the Middle East.
The campaign there between 1940 and 1943, made legends out of Germany’s Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and Britain’s Bernard Montgomery.
Gunner Cyril remembers Britain’s most famous general: “Monty was a marvellous man.”
He also served at the famous Battle of El Alamein in October 1942, which ended in a major and much-needed victory for the Allied forces.
The 12-day battle proved a turning point and secured the retreat of German forces from Africa.
Cyril remembers heavy firing and banging, which he believes may have contributed to his hearing problems.
He said: “We didn’t like it but you have to get on and do your best.”
Cyril also served in the Allied campaign to take Italy and spent months at Monte Cassino.
He said: “You could move about but you had to be very careful as they could pinpoint you.”
He was injured by a bomb blast at the River Po during the Italian campaign and served in Greece after his recuperation.
The devastation of World War II was seen by Stan Bayliss more than seven years after the conflict had ended.
Stan, who lives in Fairgreen, Middleton, completed his national service with the RAF and spent three to four days in Celle, Germany, where he and his colleagues would look after Lincoln bombers which were taking part in a top secret mission.
He said: “We didn’t know exactly what was going on but we landed at Celle. During the war it was shot up and it was a hell of a mess.”
Remembrance is also important to Owen “Lenny” Leonard, who lives in Hunstanton and served in Northern Ireland with the Royal Anglian 1st Battalion.
He recalls that it was “ordinary” to have bullets fired at you and described the noise as an “angry bee”.
Lenny said: “I did lose friends out there. They gave up their todays for us. I would urge people to take part in Remembrance services.”
Steve Russell, 55, of North Lynn, served with the RAF during the Falklands War and also in Iceland in the Cold War when Russian planes armed with nuclear weapons probed western defences.
He recalls seeing differences in British troops heading out and returning from fighting at the Falklands.
Steve said: “The most striking remembrance was when the first Argentina soldiers were repatriated. They were a bunch of kids. It really brought it home. They were conscripts forced to fight against the best army in the world.”
Keith May has a long military career which started as a cadet in 1951 and was one of the youngsters who stood on the Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace during the Queen’s Coronation.
He went on to join the Coldstream Guards and spent three years in Northern Ireland. He left the regulars in 1974.
Keith, 75, of Glebe Avenue, Hunstanton, said: “Remembrance Day means a lot to me. One of my wife’s uncles died in World War I and two friends of mine were killed in Northern Ireland. Although my father and uncle did not die in the war, they served and I think of them.
“I also remember the crosses and the cemetery memorials in the French graveyards. That stays with you forever.”
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Weather for King's Lynn
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: South west