Tributes unite the generations

VETERANS and their families stood side-by-side with serving soldiers yesterday to remember those injured and killed in the line of duty.

Remembrance service

VETERANS and their families stood side-by-side with serving soldiers yesterday to remember those injured and killed in the line of duty.

Remembrance services took place around the region to commemorate servicemen killed in World Wars One and Two, as well as in more recent conflicts and those that are still ongoing.

A two-minute silence was observed at 11am at services and parades across the North-East as hundreds of grandparents, mothers, fathers and children gathered to mark a Remembrance Sunday that coincided with Armistice Day – the exact anniversary of the guns falling silent in 1918.

The official remembrance service in Newcastle took place at the Renwick War Memorial on Barras Bridge while the traditional cenotaph at Old Eldon Square is being renovated. The 1920s Renwick Memorial, which has itself recently been restored and rededicated, drew a large crowd to watch local dignitaries and representatives of the armed forces lay wreaths and take part in an open air service to commemorate the nation’s war dead from 1914 onwards.

Wreaths were laid by the Royal British Legion, the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Army, the RAF, the Merchant Navy, the emergency services, local universities and foreign consulates, and the War Widows’ Association.

The band of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the band of the Tyne Tees Regiment, the Northumbria ACF Corps of Drums and the City Pipe Band gave musical accompaniment to the service, led by the Lord Mayor’s Chaplain.

Veterans from the Second World War, Korea, Ulster, the Falklands, and the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, were present.

Among them was Norman Blyth, who fought in Malaya and Borneo. He said: “It was a good service.

It shouldn’t be allowed to die out – children at school should be taught what people have sacrificed.”

Hundreds of people in Hexham turned out to pay their respects to those who have lost their lives serving their country.

Town mayor JB Jonas, said: “We try to keep the day relevant for those who are too young to remember the world wars.”

The Brampton Silver Band led the parade through the town before a service at Hexham Abbey.

Among those to lay wreaths were May Armstrong, of Prudhoe, whose son Derek died while serving in the Navy in the Falklands.

There was also a service at Durham Cathedral yesterday, while the remembrance ceremony in Sunderland saw the biggest parade outside the capital.

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Royal tributes

THE Queen led the nation in remembering Britain’s war dead as thousands of people across the country honoured servicemen and women who died fighting for their nation.

Wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph by the Monarch, senior royals and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Thousands of veterans marched past Whitehall’s famous war memorial to pay their respects to fallen comrades.

Meanwhile, the first Remembrance Sunday service to be held at the Armed Forces Memorial in Alrewas, Staffordshire, was attended by 3,000.

Prince William, an officer in the Blues and Royals, represented a new generation of service personnel as he laid a wreath for the first time in central London.

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Anguish at needless war deaths

THE father of a North soldier who died in Iraq hit at out last night at figures showing high numbers of preventable deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Four-and-a-half years ago John Miller, from Usworth in Washington, lost his son Simon in Iraq, and since then has been calling the Ministry of Defence to account over the lack of equipment available to his team.

And with his other son Jon due to go on a tour of Afghanistan next year, Mr Miller and wife Marilyn are justifiably concerned.

Yesterday the couple paid their respects to Simon, 21, who was among six military policeman murdered on patrol in June 2003, at a remembrance service in Washington Village.

Figures revealed yesterday estimate that a third of deaths among soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq have been preventable.

Official investigations into the deaths of the Redcaps concluded their deaths were unavoidable, which the families of the soldiers, which also included Cpl Paul Long, from South Shields, dispute.

They have always pointed to the lack of ammunition given to their sons and the lack of suitable radio communications.

They said the figures, which estimate that 88 of the 254 deaths in the two conflicts have been avoidable, should have spurred the Ministry of Defence into action some time ago.

A third North soldier on the list of preventable deaths is Newcastle guardsman Anthony Wakefield, 24, a father-of-three, whose vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Basra in May 2005.

Yesterday Mr Miller, 56, said: “If my son and his comrades had more ammunition and the iridium satellite phone that day, I believe they would be here today and I defy anybody to tell me different.

“They were denied what they should have had.”

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