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City's eve of VJ Day event to honour those who served in Far East

More than 1,000 men from Cambridge and nearby who served in the Far East during the Second World War will be remembered at a special event on the eve of VJ Day’s 75th anniversary.

The city council is hosting the event at the Guildhall on Friday, August 14. Council leader Lewis Herbert, and the mayor, Cllr Russ McPherson, will pay tribute to people to those who served in the forces and were held as prisoners of war in the Far East.

Cllr Russ McPherson
Cllr Russ McPherson

Cllr Herbert will offer guests an account of events from the fall of Singapore through to Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945. Tributes will be paid to members of the Cambridgeshire Regiment and other British service people, while relatives and guests will also have an opportunity to view the commemorative bronze memorial plaque installed in the Guildhall lobby on the 70th anniversary of VJ Day.

Coronavirus social distancing guidelines will be followed throughout the event and has limited the number able to attend in person. Among those invited are representatives of the Royal Anglian Regiment Association and surviving relatives of armed forces members who had been held as prisoners of war. The council has held a series of events over the years starting with a first welcome back party for survivors on December 10, 1945 and several more since 2010.

Cllr Herbert said: “We remember over 1,000 Cambridge and Cambridgeshire men who fought and died in the Far East on land, sea and air, including over 500 while prisoners of war there. The event on August 14 will be a fitting tribute to them and their extraordinary bravery.

“We remember in particular the fortitude of all those who suffered appalling treatment as Japanese Army prisoners and hundreds of local men who died as slave labourers including on the notorious Burma Siam railway.”

Cllr McPherson added: “We will be honoured to welcome the relatives of the service people who sacrificed so much in the Second World War, and representatives of our local regiments who served so bravely since. Seventy-five years on from the end of the Second World War, this occasion celebrates the end of six years of war in August 1945 and is also a reminder of the heavy price paid by so many Cambridge service people and their families to help ensure victory.”

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