Those who were there the day the war in Europe ended are a dwindling few, but the people of Bury St Edmunds made sure they and the comrades they lost were remembered on the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
The parade and service was held on Saturday, they day after VE Day, on Angel Hill where the town’s dignitaries were joined by serving members of British and American forces based locally. World War Two veterans were represented by the Royal British Legion and their service associations.
Under leaden clouds, the parade was led into Angel Hill by the band of Bury’s TS St Edmund Sea Cadets’ unit.
Gathered around the war memorial, which says ‘Let those who come after see to it that they be not forgotten’, they remembered with a short service conducted by St Edmundsbury Mayor’s chaplain the Rev Canon Matthew Vernon.
A Royal British Legion bugler sounded the last post, the service organisations’ colours were lowered in respect and the two minutes silence began. It was followed by the wreath laying.
For Jo Churchill, elected only two days before, the wreath laying was her first official engagement as Bury’s new MP.
As St Edmundsbury Mayor Robert Everitt went to lay his wreath, his granddaughter Lauren took his hand and added a new generation to the remembrance ceremony as they approached the memorial together.
Though Hitler had killed himself on April 30, the Germans did not officially surrender until May 8, when celebrations erupted across the world, but it would be another five months before Japan surrendered after nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In almost six years of war, it is estimated about 80 million died, though that figure includes deaths from disease and starvation resulting from conflict.
Allied military casualties were 452,000 from Britain and the Commonwealth, 295,000 from the USA, including many airman stationed in East Anglia,and 13.6 million from the USSR.