Yarmouth

7 things to do in Norfolk this weekend: September 12 to 13

The Nearly Festival Garden Party, which has been adapted for social distancing, is one of the events taking place this weekend in Norfolk, this picture is from the 2019 event in Oulton Broad. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Nearly Festival Garden Party, which has been adapted for social distancing, is one of the events taking place this weekend in Norfolk, this picture is from the 2019 event in Oulton Broad. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

From socially-distanced music festivals to a free market, there is plenty to keep you entertained in Norfolk this weekend.

Wild Fields Festival is heading to the Norfolk Showground and is a two-day socially-distanced event Picture: Supplied by Wild FieldsWild Fields Festival is heading to the Norfolk Showground and is a two-day socially-distanced event Picture: Supplied by Wild Fields

1. What: Wild Fields Festival

Where: Norfolk Showground, Dereham Road, New Costessey, NR5 0TT

When: September 12 to 13, 12pm to 11pm

Cost: Day tickets from £30, weekend tickets from £45 (both + booking fee), wildpaths.co.uk/wildfields

Wild Paths Festival launched last October with over 200 acts performing at 23 venues over four days, celebrating both local and international talent. The event was cancelled this year due to coronavirus, but organiser Ben Street is making sure music fans don’t miss out with a new socially-distanced version of the festival called Wild Fields. The biggest names on the line-up are KOKOROKO, Gengahr, Joe Armon-Jones, Another Sky and Olivia Dean and to keep audiences safe, there will be roped off zones spaced two metres apart for groups of up to six and marshalled queues for the food stalls, bars and toilets.

Dragon Hall in Norwich is one of the venues taking part in Norfolk Heritage Open Days Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDragon Hall in Norwich is one of the venues taking part in Norfolk Heritage Open Days Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

2. What: Heritage Open Days

Where: Various locations across Norfolk

When: September 11 to 20

Cost: All free, see the full programme at norfolkheritageopendays.co.uk

Explore Norfolk’s hidden gems for free as the Heritage Open Days festival, a nationwide celebration of history and culture, returns for 2020. Due to coronavirus and social distancing restrictions, the festival includes online activities to accompany traditional in-person events for the first time. Highlights include a heritage photo walk at the Former RAF Coltishall, the chance to explore Bishop’s House Garden in Norwich and botanical drawing for beginners in Thetford.

Interlude Fringe is part of Interlude, which is running for six weeks in Chapelfield Gardens and has been organised by Norwich Theatre and circus company Lost in Translation Picture: James RandleInterlude Fringe is part of Interlude, which is running for six weeks in Chapelfield Gardens and has been organised by Norwich Theatre and circus company Lost in Translation Picture: James Randle

3. What: Interlude Fringe

Where: Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich, NR2 1RP

When: September 13, 10am to 6pm

Cost: £15 for the day, 01603 630000, norwichtheatre.org

This event is a collaboration between Norwich Theatre and Norwich Fringe and it is part of Interlude, a six-week programme of live shows in a big top tent. Local acts will come together for a day of live music, comedy and theatre and all ticket sales will go directly to the artists performing, thanks to generous donations made as part of Norwich Theatre’s Crisis Appeal. See the full line-up for the day and timings on the Norwich Theatre website.

The Nearly Festival Garden Party is one of the events you can attend this weekend, this picture is from 2018 when the event was held in Chapelfield Gardens. Picture: Nick ButcherThe Nearly Festival Garden Party is one of the events you can attend this weekend, this picture is from 2018 when the event was held in Chapelfield Gardens. Picture: Nick Butcher

4. What: Nearly Festival Garden Party

Where: Wensum Valley Hotel Golf & Country Club, Beech Avenue, Taverham, NR8 6HP

When: September 12, 12pm to 8pm, September 13, 12pm to 7pm

Cost: Day tickets, over-14s £20, children (5 to 14) £7.50, under-5s free, weekend tickets sold out, gardenparties.musthavetickets.co.uk

This popular festival, which in previous years has come to parks across East Anglia, is back for 2020 and will present some of the UK’s finest tribute acts of legendary performers and groups such as Elton John, Oasis and on Sunday there is a Queen Live Aid tribute. There will also be food vendors and a bar and to adhere to social distancing, customers will need to book a four by three metre personal space for their group for two to six people.

Jamal Sealey (left) and Rahima Brandt (right), the organisers of the Norwich Free MarketJamal Sealey (left) and Rahima Brandt (right), the organisers of the Norwich Free Market

5. What: Norwich Free Market

Where: Back car park at Norwich Theatre Royal (outside Stage Two), Theatre Street, Norwich, NR2 1RL

When: September 13, 10am to 4pm

Cost: Free

A new monthly market where you’ll find live music, street food, coffee, clothes, bags, jewellery, ceramics and much more. There is no fees for stall holders or shoppers to enter and it is a thriving hub for community trade – you will be able to access it either by walking down Chantry Road or through the front entrance of the theatre.

The Summer Spectacular at Yarmouth's Hippodrome Circus, with social distancing measures in place Picture: David StreetThe Summer Spectacular at Yarmouth’s Hippodrome Circus, with social distancing measures in place Picture: David Street

6. What: Summer Spectacular

Where: Hippodrome Circus, St George’s Road, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2EU

When: Until September 20, various times

Cost: Adults £20 to £25, concessions (over 60s)/carers £17 to £22, children (0-14) £12 to £16 (babies on laps don’t need tickets), bookings must be made by phone 01493 738877 (box office opens from 10am daily), find full details at hippodromecircus.co.uk/summer-spectacular

The show must go on and Yarmouth’s Hippodrome Circus is making sure families don’t miss out this summer with Covid-safe performances, featuring amazing acrobats, aerialists, daring stunts, dancers, swimmers and its world famous Water Spectacular. The hosts are Jack Jay and Johnny Mac and there is a reduced capacity and running time, approximately 70 to 75 minutes, with no interval to prevent crowding – masks are also mandatory in the auditorium.

An assortment of Star Wing's bottled beers Picture: Star Wing BreweryAn assortment of Star Wing’s bottled beers Picture: Star Wing Brewery

7. What: Hops ‘n’ Hogs

Where: Star Wing Brewery, Unit 6, Hall Farm, Redgrave, IP22 1RJ

When: September 12, 12pm until 11pm

Cost: Free

Just across the border and a few miles from Diss, expect a fun day out for all the family, including four-legged guests, this weekend at Star Wing Brewery. There will be community hop picking, live music, food trucks and a free hog roast for the first 50 pickers.

Make sure to check online before heading to event as they made be cancelled or postponed at short notice due to coronavirus guidelines or weather conditions.


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How did Norfolk celebrate VE Day in 1945?

Plenty to smile about: joy writ large at a VE Day party held at the Seething air base hospital Picture: Steve Snelling

Plenty to smile about: joy writ large at a VE Day party held at the Seething air base hospital Picture: Steve Snelling

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As a nation in ‘lockdown’ prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, Steve Snelling looks back to the original VE Day in Norfolk.

Crowd scenes: photographer George Swain captures the celebrations in Norwich as the city centre is taken over by thousands of people bent on celebrating the end of the war in Europe Picture: Steve SnellingCrowd scenes: photographer George Swain captures the celebrations in Norwich as the city centre is taken over by thousands of people bent on celebrating the end of the war in Europe Picture: Steve Snelling

When it came to marking great moments of martial triumph in the nation’s history Ralph Hale Mottram was something of a veteran. As a callow youth he had celebrated the relief of Mafeking and as an improbable citizen soldier he had experienced the “bewildering sense of anti-climax” as the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War.

But the atmosphere on VE Day seemed different again, more subdued perhaps, more weary certainly. For the second time in 30 years, he was a member of “a victorious nation-in-arms” though, as he observed, “no people in such a position ever looked and sounded less like it”.

To Norwich’s most distinguished literary figure, the war which had laid waste to so much of the ancient city he held dear continued to cast its baleful shadow. The sirens might have ceased to wail, but he still found himself listening for explosions and swooping aircraft “with a kind of apprehension as if one had overslept from complete exhaustion”.

If the mood hardly seemed to fit the occasion, then it appeared to him that the reason could be found in the myriad sacrifices and ruinous toll inflicted on the city and its citizens during an ordeal he had so movingly chronicled.

Crowd scenes: photographer George Swain captures the celebrations in Norwich as the city centre is taken over by thousands of people bent on celebrating the end of the war in Europe Picture: Steve SnellingCrowd scenes: photographer George Swain captures the celebrations in Norwich as the city centre is taken over by thousands of people bent on celebrating the end of the war in Europe Picture: Steve Snelling

As he reflected: “It was not modesty that made us fail to acclaim an event so many times more important than Mafeking Night or the Armistice of 1918. It was a numbness so stunned that we hardly had the energy to say, as well we might, ‘Thank God!’”

For many, the overriding emotion on May 8, 1945, was one of immense relief that a six-year long conflict was nearly over – Japan, of course, had yet to be defeated – and lives could begin to return to something akin to normality.

It was a feeling exemplified by a simple diary entry made by Norwich blitz survivor Agnes Pond. “Great VE Day,” she wrote, “war over in Europe, no more fighting for all the brave men and women who have saved us from untold horror. No more sirens, no more fear and dread, no more bombing.”

Though widely shared such sentiments were probably symptomatic also of a generational gap in people’s responses to the first stirrings of peace.

Crowd scenes: photographer George Swain captures the celebrations in Norwich as the city centre is taken over by thousands of people bent on celebrating the end of the war in Europe Picture: Steve SnellingCrowd scenes: photographer George Swain captures the celebrations in Norwich as the city centre is taken over by thousands of people bent on celebrating the end of the war in Europe Picture: Steve Snelling

It is perhaps telling that both Ralph and Agnes were over 60 when the war ended and, given the strains of a six-year struggle and its disproportionate impact on the elderly, it is hardly surprising that they should have mustered little enthusiasm for outward displays of jubilation.

But it was a different story for younger generations for whom VE Day represented not just a temporary escape from the constrictions and restrictions of war but a wonderful excuse to party on a scale and in a manner that few would ever forget.

In military bases and communities across the region, service personnel and civilians alike indulged in the kind of high-spirited celebrations which, though by no means universal, has come to define the popular image of people’s reaction to the end of the war in Europe.

For some that raucous revelry began prematurely. At Station 146, the Seething-based ‘home’ to the United States’ 448th Bomb Group, an early unofficial announcement of Germany’s surrender sparked a display of flares augmented by a fusilade of gunfire that landed one man in hospital with a bullet wound to his hand and resulted in some officers being ordered out of their beds at 5am on VE Day to march round the airfield perimeter as punishment for their unruly behaviour.

The pyrotechnical show would prove a sign of spectacular things to come, though to begin with the celebrations in many places were restrained, even muted.

At Norwich’s Britannia Barracks, a thousand troops attended a drumhead service before being given the rest of the day off to join in a victory party that was as yet undefined and slow to gain momentum.

Covering events for the EDP, a journalist reckoned that “most people were content to relax, quietly and soberly, after the strain and stress of the last five and a half years”.

A large crowd gathered to watch dignitaries leave a flag and streamer festooned City Hall to attend a Civic Service in St Peter Mancroft Church from where a peel of bells served as a victory salute.

And later, amid scenes repeated throughout the county, a special service of thanksgiving drew a congregation of more than 300 people to the ruins of St Mary’s Baptist Chapel, one of a number of places of worship in the city left devastated by German air raids.

All across the region, impromptu street parties sprang up. On Lowestoft’s South Pier servicemen hosted one such event for local children. Others were staged in and around communities that had been reduced to rubble by enemy bombing.

Betty Acheson’s mother was among a group of mums who banded together to lay on a spread for children whose families in the Wingfield Road neighbourhood of Norwich had suffered great distress during the city’s heaviest raids. “I don’t know where they discovered all the food,” she later recalled, “but they certainly put on a great spread despite the fact we were still on rations.”

Elsewhere, the celebrations were a little thin on the ground. In Titchwell, John Taylor, a playwright and former member of the local Home Guard, enjoyed a “‘Victory’ breakfast of eggs and bacon” and, after “a quiet day”, headed with his wife to a local pub, “thinking to find the place crowded” but which was, in fact, empty.

In his diary, he noted: “We had a glass of sherry, and came home. As a great treat we toasted the Allies in a small dose of inferior brandy and soda.”

Throughout Norfolk, it seems, some semblance of normality was maintained, or at least attempted, during the morning.

Teacher Elizabeth Macfarlane remembered cycling as usual across the city to Hellesdon Secondary Modern School only to discover that all the pupils and a fair few members of staff had given themselves the day off. She and a few others stayed long enough to bake some cakes which they ate with a celebratory cup of tea!

Elsewhere, a number of businesses and shops stayed open till lunchtime before bowing to the inevitable. By early afternoon many of their staff had joined a growing number of British and American servicemen who were making a bee-line for the centre of Norwich.

Among them was Irene Playle, a Naafi worker at an army base near Arminghall where her husband was a trumpet player in his unit’s band. “It was a very easy-going camp,” she recalled, “and in the early afternoon of VE Day, the band loaded its piano onto a truck and two truckloads set off for Norwich to tour the streets and play.”

Most headed for the Market Place and a Gentleman’s Walk dampened by a rain shower but now basking in spring sunshine. Hour by hour the numbers of people grew into a crowd of Carrow Road proportions that brought traffic to a virtual standstill.

What buses and cars that still moved through the cheery throng were crammed with people who, like everyone else around them, seemed to drawn to something beyond their ken, something yet to take shape.

It was a similar story in Lowestoft where Roy Larkins, an RAF aircraftsman home on leave, recalled a sense of uncertainty as he wandered the streets in search of VE Day celebrations.

“We had been waiting long enough for it [peace] and now that it had arrived, we didn’t know what to do,” he observed. “Many people just got drunk. Others made lots of shouting noises and engaged in impromptu dances in the street.”

It wasn’t until 5.30pm, when the factories, shipyards, shops and offices closed, that the fun began in earnest. “All over town,” he said, “large bonfires had been built with wood from bomb-damaged buildings and blackout torn from windows.”

Not long after, they were all “burning furiously” as Roy and a girl friend strolled from bonfire to bonfire, “soaking in the joviality” all around.

A few miles to the north in Great Yarmouth, service personnel and townspeople were enjoying their own “spontaneous” celebrations. In the glare of bonfires and to the shriek of ships’ sirens, crowds partied long and hard into the night, dancing and singing, in an open-air festival of joy that stretched from the Market Place to Marine Parade.

Back in Norwich, the crowds had, at last, shaken off their natural inhibitions as the region’s biggest VE Day street party burst into wild singing.

A group of soldiers led the way, linking arms with some girls as they sang and danced their way along the Walk. They were quickly followed by “other little knots of merry-makers” until, by mid-afternoon, at least half-a-dozen different groups were performing their own version of the ‘Victory quick step’.

Throaty cheers greeted a line of British and American servicemen as they made a show of parading arm-in-arm through the teeming streets.

And so it went on. As darkness descended the city became a blaze of light for the first time in nearly six years as searchlights illuminated the City Hall, the Castle, the Cathedral and other ancient buildings.

It was all too much for some. Joan Banger, a trailblazing historian of wartime Norwich, has recorded how the spectacle prompted “exclamations of joy” and “tears”.

Fireworks fizzed into the night sky as American Liberators and British Mosquitoes, their lights blazing, swept low across the city, dropping scores of flares that once would have sparked fear but now only added to the euphoria.

Yet more exuberant pyrotechnical shows were a feature of many of the celebrations staged at the American bomber bases dotting the county. Graphic images of Liberators silhouetted against a surreal explosion of arcing light tell of grand displays that reminded at least one witness of “fourth of July” festivities “back home”.

Some of these VE night displays, such as one at Seething, were relatively organised affairs following on from short services of prayer and thanksgiving. Others were altogether more “wild”, as Dan Roure, an airman from the 93rd Bomb Group based at Hardwick recalled.

The celebrations started with the occupants of one hut setting fire to the contents of their ‘trash barrels’, the flames then being fed with any other “inflammables that could be found”.

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“This was sane enough,” he wrote, “but apparently a little too tame for some of our more high-spirited lads who then began to dig out the souvenir calibre-fifty shells and forty-five ammunition that had been collected during their tours…

“It turned out to be a sizeable cache of mixed cartridges that were tossed by the handful into the blazing GI cans.

“In a few seconds… they had heated sufficiently to detonate, many of their slugs penetrating the sides of the cans and flying about on random trajectories… As if that were not enough, a couple of other bright chaps remembered a Very (signalling) pistol that someone had scrounged… along with a supply of star-shells.

“Before long there were coloured balls of light arching over and around the huts. And that reminded somebody in a nearby Nissen that they, too, knew where another Very gun, with its flares, was stashed.

“The predictable outcome was a colourful, if somewhat precarious, ‘battle’ between the huts… until all their shells were exhausted…”

More official celebrations would have to wait another five days, till the grand victory parade when more than 5,000 British Commonwealth and American servicemen and women marched, with bands playing, through the crowded streets of Norwich.

VE Day was no time for formality. For many, it was about improvisation and, out of relief, thanksgiving or sheer jubilation, an instinctive desire to find pleasure in the moment.

That was certainly the case in Norwich’s crowded Market Place. As searchlights flashed V-signs in the sky above the city, ecstatic revellers marked the first midnight of peace with an uproarious ‘Conga’ that snaked all the way from The Walk up Guildhall Hill and back again.

And with that VE Day – a day of humdrum and hullabaloo, of relief and reflection for some and unbridled joy for others – passed into gloriously memorable history.


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How Norfolk and Suffolk celebrated VE Day in 1945

VE Day The Walk in Norwich on VE Day Photo: copy Copy: Rowan Mantell For: EN EDP pics © 2004 (01603) 772434

VE Day The Walk in Norwich on VE Day Photo: copy Copy: Rowan Mantell For: EN EDP pics © 2004 (01603) 772434

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How Norfolk and Suffolk celebrated VE Day: “The sky for miles around resembled the aurora borealis…an unforgettable fairyland of colour…”

Cutting and photograph from the EDP for 9th May 1945, showing the VE Day celebrations in Norwich the previous day. For: Stock Archant © 2005 (01603) 772434Cutting and photograph from the EDP for 9th May 1945, showing the VE Day celebrations in Norwich the previous day. For: Stock Archant © 2005 (01603) 772434

In bold type, streaming across the front page, was the news that everyone had been waiting for: the Eastern Daily Press’s headline on Tuesday May 8 was: WAR IN EUROPE ENDS – VE DAY TODAY.

While the news was received with unbridled joy, the celebration of victory was somewhat piecemeal due to long drawn out surrender processes.

The Germans surrendered Berlin to the Russians on May 2, the formal surrender to the Allies was at Eisenhower’s headquarters in the early hours of May 7 but Churchill didn’t address the nation until 3pm on May 8.

A report in the South West Suffolk Echo about the reaction to rumours that the war was over stressed the confusion.

Norwich -- 2nd World War Thanksgiving Parade in front of the City Hall in Norwich Dated -- May 13th 1945 Plate -- p0671Norwich — 2nd World War Thanksgiving Parade in front of the City Hall in Norwich Dated — May 13th 1945 Plate — p0671

“The day was one of tense expectation, when everyone lived from hour to hour for the next bulletin. Radio sets worked overtime; constructive plans were impossible and there was a certain amount of diffidence as to who would make the first sign that the great moment had arrived, until temerarious tradesmen began to make a display of flags and national colours in their windows. Still the Prime Minister had not made the official announcement and the town was in a state of uncertainty as to whether the evening would be spent in thanksgiving or otherwise…”

Despite the surrender of the Germans, it still appeared as if the war in the Far East would continue and many men from East Anglia were still their prisoners-of-war.

The Japanese surrender was on August 10 but formal peace declarations were not made until August 15.

Many towns and villages in Norfolk and Suffolk established their own ‘Welcome Home!’ committees which set about raising money for thanksgiving celebrations and many for their returning heroes.

Submitted pic of VE party in Wingfield Road, June 1945 Copy Derek JamesSubmitted pic of VE party in Wingfield Road, June 1945 Copy Derek James

However, the rector of Garboldisham, the Reverend NRM Hawthorn, who had been serving abroad for three years wrote to the EDP to set out exactly what soldiers wanted to see when they returned home: “The soldier on his return chiefly wants to find his wife faithful, his children well cared for, and his home intact from bombing. Beyond this, he hopes for speedy demobilization and a secure job.

“He will not expect to be treated as a hero. Above all, he will actively resent anything savouring of charity.”

Plans for VE Day had been announced well in advance in Norwich, where it was made clear that the emphasis would be on thanksgiving rather than celebration.

Newmarket Urban District Council made it clear that wholesale celebrations would be wholly inappropriate while local men were still being held in Japanese prisoner camps.

Copy picture of VE Day celebrations in Bassingham Road, Norwich. Photo: Copy: Jon Welch For: EN EDP pics © 2005 (01603) 772434Copy picture of VE Day celebrations in Bassingham Road, Norwich. Photo: Copy: Jon Welch For: EN EDP pics © 2005 (01603) 772434

When the news of peace first arrived on May 7, the celebrations were initially – and respectfully – muted: at first.

The EDP reported: “During the morning and early afternoon it seemed that most people were content to relax, quietly and soberly, after the strain and stress of the last five-and-a-half-years.”

But it wasn’t long before jubilation won the day. Soon Norwich City Hall was festooned with flags and streamers and people began to pour into the centre wearing red, white and blue headbands or rosettes.

Church bells rang and the crowds on Gentleman’s Walk and outside City Hall began to celebrate with dancing and drinking.

American servicemen in Westgate Street, Ipswich during VE Day celebrations in May 1945. (Photo by George Wilden courtesy Stowmarket Local History Group)) American servicemen in Westgate Street, Ipswich during VE Day celebrations in May 1945. (Photo by George Wilden courtesy Stowmarket Local History Group))

The Castle, the Guildhall, City Hall and other civic buildings were bathed in light and search lights moved from Duke Street to the Cathedral with the V for Victory sign flashed into the sky time and again into the small hours.

Over a matter of hours, houses were transformed with pictures of the King, Queen and Churchill, flags, bunting and banners.

Even the RAF and USAAF joined in, discharing Verery flares, rockets and fireworks – one newspaper reported “the sky for miles around resembled the aurora borealis…an unforgettable fairyland of colour.”

In Bury St Edmunds, the Abby Gardens were lit up with and there was dancing on Angel Hill, the Angel Hotel was illuminated with red, white and blue lamps.

 William Catchpole saw himself as a three-year-old in this VE Day party in 1945.William Catchpole saw himself as a three-year-old in this VE Day party in 1945.

The next day, the official VE Day, saw Ipswich crowds gather at the Cornhill to listen to the Prime Minister’s speech before a rousing speech from the Mayor and a rousing chorus of the National Anthem.

In Felixstowe, the Gloucester Regiment’s band marched through the town, in Colchester loud speakers played music all day and American and Canadian airmen and soldiers, French paratroopers and British sailors and soldiers drank together.

Ships in the town’s port – and at Great Yarmouth – sounded their sirens in harmony.

Religious ceremonies took place on Sunday May 13, Norwich Cathedral was so packed that the service had to be relayed on loud speakers in the Close and afterwards, there was a victory parade led by around 5,000 British and American troops, including five bands.

These services and parades marked the end of the official celebration of VE Day but communities across Norfolk and Suffolk continued to mark the momentous occasion in the weeks to follow with street tea parties.

In Chelmsford, as in many other towns and villages, an effigy of Hitler was burned on a bonfire at an open-air party.

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Princess Marina, the Duchess of Kent, toured Norwich, Sheringham, Cromer and King’s Lynn meeting people, including lifeboatman hero Henry Blogg, and joining them in thanksgiving that the war in Europe had come to an end.

But although relieved the war was over, VE Day was tinged with sadness for so many families who had lost loved ones, or whose husbands and sons were still far away.

One Norwich woman said: “I had made flags for the children and sewed them to curtain rods. We hung them out of the children’s bedroom window. We looked out all their red, white and blue clothes, Ann had a red, white and blue ribbon in her hair, Richard had a piece of ribbon on his cot. I had to have a ribbon in my hair and the dolls and Daddy’s photograph were also decked in ribbons…

“My main feeling on V-Day was an intense loneliness. A day like that seems so unreal without one’s husband.”

And the war claimed more victims, even after peace: among the crowds in St Benedict’s Street in Norwich, an American army truck ran over and killed a 10-year-old girl while a car carrying three sailors from Lowestoft ran into a 61-year-old woman in Gorleston, who later died.

For many, the biggest celebrations were saved until three months later.

While people were singing, dancing and celebrating in May, many men from East Anglia were still suffering terribly in slave camps in Japan so when victory in the Far East was announced, VJ-Day saw an even greater level of jubilation.

Families realised their men from Norfolk and Suffolk would finally be making the long journey home – a definite cause for celebration.

A war-torn region: the damage East Anglia sustained during World War Two

· Around 5,000 tonnes of bombs fell over East Anglia during five-and-a-half years of war

· More than 1,000 people were killed in the region as a result of bombing and 4,000 were seriously injured

· It is estimated that the East was pummelled with 30,000 high explosive bombs, 575 parachute mines, 680 V-1 rockets, 429 V-2 rockets and around 160,000 incendiaries and other weapons

· These figures do not include bombs that fell on military properties

· The War Damage Commission reported there were 202,328 war-damaged properties in the Eastern Region at the end of the war

· The most heavily-bombed town in the east was Great Yarmouth, which suffered 219 raids and say 237 buildings destroyed and a further 1,427 houses and 172 other buildings so badly damaged that they had to be demolished

· In Norfolk, 20 German planes had been brought down and 933 Allied aircraft had crashed, 677 RAF and 256 USAAF during the war


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Police pull over truck for unsecure load in Great Yarmouth

Police pulled over a truck in Great Yarmouth after concerns about how secure its load was. Picture: NSRAPT

Police pulled over a truck in Great Yarmouth after concerns about how secure its load was. Picture: NSRAPT

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A truck travelling without fully securing its load was pulled over by police.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team (NSRAPT) team stopped the vehicle in Great Yarmouth on Saturday.

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On Twitter, the NSRAPT said the truck had only one proper strap and bungee cords holding the load on.

Among the items it was transporting were ladders, a wheel barrow, a bucket of scaffold joints and metal poles.

According to officers, upon speaking to the driver, he replied “I’ll just get the other strap”.

The team tweeted: “Stopped this truck in Gt Yarmouth. Only one proper strap and a few bungees holding this load on…. or not (see the battens next to the ladder). Other items loose – ie. a wheel barrow, a bucket of scaffold joints. When told the driver said: ‘I’ll get the other strap!’”


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Criminal proceedings could be brought in crash death of ‘devoted father’

Rikki Loades, who died in a crash on the A11. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary

Rikki Loades, who died in a crash on the A11. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk Constabulary

The inquest into the death of a man who died on the A11 has been paused again until a decision is made on criminal proceedings.

Rikki Loades, 31, from Norwich, died on the A11 at Wymondham on April 29 last year after a crash between his car and a HGV.

A pre-inquest review was held at Norfolk coroners’ court in Norwich on Thursday, April 23.

Area coroner Yvonne Blake said they were still awaiting instructions whether criminal proceedings would be brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

She adjourned the case and said another pre-inquest review would be held in Norwich on June 23.

A previous inquest opening was told that Mr Loades been born in Great Yarmouth and worked as a website developer.

His wife Tosin has paid tribute to him, describing him as a “devoted father, a loving husband, a hero of a brother and a wonderful son”.


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VJ Day will remember those whose war didn't end in May 1945

Allied prisoners of war celebrating their liberation from Changi Jail, Singapore. During the occupation from 1942-1945 Japan treated the large number of prisoners of war with extreme harshness which was only fully realised after the liberation. An estimated 140,000 allied troops and civilians were held by the Japanese during the Second World War in prisoner of war (POW) camps run with a strict brutality that led to many thousands of deaths. See PA story VJ Camp. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should

Allied prisoners of war celebrating their liberation from Changi Jail, Singapore. During the occupation from 1942-1945 Japan treated the large number of prisoners of war with extreme harshness which was only fully realised after the liberation. An estimated 140,000 allied troops and civilians were held by the Japanese during the Second World War in prisoner of war (POW) camps run with a strict brutality that led to many thousands of deaths. See PA story VJ Camp. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should

Archant

As our thoughts turn to events to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day we should remember the many families in East Anglia had little to celebrate. Derek James honours ‘The Forgotten Army’

Members of FEPOW with their chaplain the Rev Pauline Simpson at the memorial in Great Yarmouth, the only one of its kind in the country. Photo: Sue FletcherMembers of FEPOW with their chaplain the Rev Pauline Simpson at the memorial in Great Yarmouth, the only one of its kind in the country. Photo: Sue Fletcher

While people were dancing and singing across East Anglia in May of 1945, many of our men were being beaten, starved and worked to death in jungle slave camps.

For them the war was not over. Every day was a nightmare.

And while the country was having a party these prisoners of war had family and friends desperately worried about these men being tortured and tormented on the other side of the world.

What was happening to them? Were they still alive? Would the Japanese ever surrender? When they be coming home? And what condition would they be in?

A photograph which illustrates so well why we must never forget our men who served in the Far East jungle slave camps. Photo: Archant library.A photograph which illustrates so well why we must never forget our men who served in the Far East jungle slave camps. Photo: Archant library.

It would be several months, longer for some, before the survivors from the Far East returned home.

Over the years it has been a privilege to have known, and written about, several of these Far East Prisoners of War. Quiet, modest gentlemen who often found it tough to talk about their war…and it was easy to see why.

The pain eased for some as they got back to normal life as the years went by. But their awful memories were still vivid. We heard their stories…and listened in horror.

There was no fanfare and parades when they came home in dribs and drabs, mostly by train stopping off at stations in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The Rev Pauline Simpson of Norfolk is the FEPOW Chaplain and secretary/Welfare Officer for FEPOW. Photo: Mark Bullimore.The Rev Pauline Simpson of Norfolk is the FEPOW Chaplain and secretary/Welfare Officer for FEPOW. Photo: Mark Bullimore.

One of them, Cyril Ramsey, told me: “I got to Thorpe in March 1946 and I was so relieved to be home that I kissed the ground.”

Cyril had been in a Sydney Hospital after being released from such cruel captivity. “We had been paraded through the streets and spat at, then put to work in mines. It was hell.”

Today their memory is being kept alive thanks to the likes of the Rev Pauline Simpson, Norfolk’s own FEPOW Chaplain and Secretary/Welfare Officer.

She is following in the footsteps of her father the late Sidney Vincent, who worked on the Thai-Burma Death Railway and was very active in FEPOW affairs and his old unit had their annual reunion at the Carlton Hotel in Great Yarmouth.

Young Sidney was a 19-year-old lad from Topcroft, near Bungay, when joined the 560th Field Company, Royal Engineers, part of the 18th Division, a mainly territorial force drawn mostly from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

These ill-prepared and innocent young men set sail for what they thought would be North Africa to fight the Germans but ended up in Singapore.

The story is best told through the words of these men and the memories of one gentleman I spoke to in August of 1995 make for uncomfortable reading.

His name was Archie MacDonald who had worked for the Post Office in Norwich but before that…

When Archie – known as Mac – left the country he was given a bible. When he returned four years later he had read it over and over again. He had also been to hell and back.

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“This is one of the things which kept me going. That and my wedding ring,” he told me.

“I was one of the lucky ones. Many of my mates didn’t make it,” said Mac still treasuring his bible and ring.

Born in Oak Street, Norwich he was the son of a Scottish Black Watch soldier who had married a Norwich lass.

Mac went into the shoe trade when he left school and married his sweetheart Ellen. When war broke out he and his mates went off to Sheringham to join the 6th Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment.

“When we arrived in Singapore no-one knew what was going on. We had never fought in the jungle. We tried our best but the enemy was laughing at us,” said Mac.

Before long our men were ordered to lay down their arms and surrender and Mac was among those marched to Changi Prison. “I did get a smack round the head for looking at a guard. I remember that.”

But the true horror of their ordeal was about to emerge – they were herded like cattle into trucks and taken into the jungle to build the railway.

The next two and a half years were a nightmare as Mac explained:

“None of us were sure how long we were there. We tried to survive one day at a time. I was lucky because I was laying the track. Others cutting and blasting their way through the jungle often dropped down dead and were buried in the embankment.

“We were all so angry. We felt lost and betrayed. How could they do this to us? It was disgusting. It is so hard to explain to someone just what it was like.

“We were seriously ill with malaria and dysentery. The guards were cruel and wicked but I never thought I would perish.

“I hid my wedding ring and my bible which I must have more than a hundred times. I got a lot of smacks and saw some terrible, terrible things but I made it,” said Mac.

And he kept his sense of humour.

“At the end the American Air Force dropped some food parcels for us…and demolished our cook house!”

On returning home he had to go to hospital at Roehampton to be treated for hepatitis, malnutrition and other problems.

He made it back to Norwich four years after he left with his bible and his wedding ring, and settled down to married life becoming a father and grandfather….rarely speaking about his war.

Another former PoW Henry Bussey told me about his homecoming: “We were covered in jungle sores, yellow fever, malaria, dysentery, all sorts.

“Eventually we sailed for Great Britain, thinking about the 17,000 of our comrades had been left behind in jungle cemeteries, never to return.

They were the forgotten army.