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Cambridgeshire Regiment prisoners of war remembered at plaque unveiling





The Cambridgeshire Regiment’s WW II Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOWs) were remembered last Sunday (October 3) with the installation a new plaque dedicated to their Yasume Club self-help group and meeting place at the Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue.

Cllr Lewis Herbert at the unveiling of the plaque for the Cambridgeshire Regiment Far East Prisoners of War on October 3 2021. Picture: Antony Carpen
Cllr Lewis Herbert at the unveiling of the plaque for the Cambridgeshire Regiment Far East Prisoners of War on October 3 2021. Picture: Antony Carpen

The synagogue was built in 2015 on the same site as the FEPOWs’ social club on Auckland Road, which was there for more than 50 years until 2008. More than 30 people attended, including relatives of the servicemen.

Speeches were given by both Sheila Levy for Beth Shalom and Colonel Roger Herriot of the Royal Anglian Regimental Association. City Council Leader Cllr Lewis Herbert then shared a short history on the 2,000 soldiers from both Cambridgeshire Regiment battalions, sent into Singapore only weeks before it fell in February 1942. He then unveiled the special plaque.

Cllr Herbert said: “It was lovely to see such a big turnout for the plaque unveiling on Sunday, remembering the Yasume Club, which supported hundreds of returning soldiers from Cambridgeshire and to remember the 784 who sadly never came home.

“I’d particularly like to thank the Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue community for their beautiful remembrance of others who suffered in World War Two. Too many of the synagogue families had relatives who died in the Holocaust.

Cllr Lewis Herbert and Colonel Roger Herriot at the unveiling of the plaque for the Cambridgeshire Regiment Far East Prisoners of War on October 3 2021. Picture: Antony Carpen
Cllr Lewis Herbert and Colonel Roger Herriot at the unveiling of the plaque for the Cambridgeshire Regiment Far East Prisoners of War on October 3 2021. Picture: Antony Carpen

“The stylish plaque now on the front of the synagogue records their solidarity with hundreds of Cambridgeshire men who died from barbaric conditions, from starvation and overwork as slave labourers for wartime Japan.

“What a truly wonderful remembrance by our city's Jewish community, many of whose families suffered grievous personal loss, barbarity and inhumanity in Europe in World War Two.”

Sadly, the last surviving Cambridgeshire Regiment soldier at Singapore Ernie Brett died in Haverhill in March this year, aged 101.

The Yasume Plaque at the Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue in Cambridge dedicated to the Far East Prisoners of War of the Cambridgeshire Regiment. Picture: Antony Carpen
The Yasume Plaque at the Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue in Cambridge dedicated to the Far East Prisoners of War of the Cambridgeshire Regiment. Picture: Antony Carpen

For more on the Yasume Club, visit brantasstraat.blogspot.com/2011/03/cambridge-yasume-club.html.

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