‘Very poignant’ parade and service of remembrance honours heroes who gave their lives during Second World War
- Credit: Archant
Veterans returned to their wartime headquarters once more for a poignant annual event.
The Royal Naval Patrol Service Association (RNPSA) held their 44th annual service of remembrance and parade at Belle Vue Park in Lowestoft, where a memorial to fallen service members is based.
During the Second World War, the town was the central depot of the RNPS, as the men - who manned the minesweepers and escort vessels and saw service in all waters of the world - carried out duties to keep vital supply lines open.
The veterans made their way to Lowestoft from all parts of the UK for the poignant annual event.
Around 66,000 men were in the RNPS on 6,000 ships during the Second World War. Many were converted trawlers and drifters and by the end of the war they had lost 600 ships and 14,500 men.
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The veterans, who proudly wore their medals and a silver badge awarded by Winston Churchill, attended the service of remembrance, which drew a large crowd to the war memorial.
The service and prayers were conducted by Rev Peter Paine, Port Chaplain of the Mission to Seafarers, with the association's president Cdr Garry Titmus, vice president Cdr David Braybrooke and the national padre Rev Jim Izzard also taking part. Mayor of Lowestoft Alice Taylor was among those who attended.
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After the service, which included a wreath laying ceremony and a two minutes silence led by a bugler from the Great Yarmouth Brass band, the veterans took part in a march past, salute and sunset ceremony in Sparrow's Nest Garden - which was the service's headquarters during the war.
Leo Whisstock, national secretary of the RNPS Association, said: "Although our veterans are now in their late 90s some were on parade as well as family and friends and supporters from other local ex-forces associations.
"The 'Sparrows' swept channels in all waters of the world to allow the large Navy ships and convoys to get through, they also carried out anti-submarine work and convoy escorts.
"As with every service it was very poignant."