Thousands pay their respects to our fallen war heroes

The Northern Echo: OUT IN FORCE: The Remembrance Day parade to Darlington war memorial from the town’s Holy Trinity Church OUT IN FORCE: The Remembrance Day parade to Darlington war memorial from the town’s Holy Trinity Church

Young and old stood shoulder to shoulder across the North-East and North Yorkshire yesterday to pay their respects on Remembrance Day. Lizzie Anderson, Alexa Copeland, Gavin Engelbrecht and Chris Webber report.

THE next Archbishop of Canterbury met a 92-year-old war veteran as he preached at a Remembrance service in his diocese.

The Right Reverend Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, conducted a service at St Gabriel's Church, in Sunderland, two days after the confirmation of his appointment as successor to Dr Rowan Williams.

Bishop Welby, whose own grandfather was killed in action in the First World War, spoke to Billy McCready, a Burma veteran who was captured by the Japanese in 1942.

Mr McCready told him about his time in Burma, where he was part of the 125 Anti-Tank Regiment, which saw hundreds of men lose their lives.

During his time as a prisoner of war, the veteran was made to help build the Burma Railway - about which the film The Bridge on the River Kwai is based. He was freed by the US Army in 1945.

Writing on Twitter, Bishop Welby said: St Gabriel Sunderland, lesson read by 92-year-old veteran of Burma railway, courage and dignity. Full church, thankful for what we have now.

This scene was mirrored across the region. Legions of residents marched through the streets of Darlington to pay their respects.

From elderly veterans to young cadets and children from Scout and Guide groups, hundreds joined the Remembrance Sunday parade from Holy Trinity Church to the cenotaph at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

It was followed by wreath-laying by civic dignitaries, including Darlington Mayor Councillor Paul Baldwin and MP Jenny Chapman.

Among those paying their respects were serving soldiers Andy Carr and Wayne Addison of the Royal Signals currently based in York.

Both men have seen active service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo as well as the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They said Remembrance Sunday was a time to honour the bravery of the fallen but also to reflect on the sacrifices still being made in the name of peace.

Sergeant Addison, 32, who first joined the cadets in 1993, said: "Things change in society, but we need the legacy of peace to live on.

"People need to understand that the way of life they have got now is thanks to the people that fought for them."

Darlington Borough Council leader Councillor Bill Dixon added: "Over the last four or five years it has been building and this is absolutely fantastic.

I think it shows the new respect that people have got for the armed services past and present.

"I think it is important not just for those who lived through it, but also for younger people and children especially to realise that the lifestyles and freedoms they have got were very hard fought for."

There were also large turnouts in Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield David Hillerby, of Sedgefield Village Veterans, said: "It went extremely well. I think it is the biggest crowd we have had."

Fellow veteran Peter Gaines, 66, laid a wreath on behalf of Sedgefield Social Club.

"It is so important to remember those who gave their lives to protect our tomorrows," he said.

The parade in Durham City was given an extra dash of colour by the 68th Durham Light Infantry re-enactment group.

The DLI Association, cadets from the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Airforce and Army Cadet Force, were among those involved.

Members of HQ Company and D Rifles Company, of the 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, merged to march together.

Rifles Company Serjeant Major David Carswell, who was in charge of the parade said: This is the first parade I have conducted in Durham City. You cannot beat Durham Cathedral as a location. It is awesome.

The mayor of Stockton, Councillor Lynne Apedaile, spoke of an innovative service at Stockton Parish Church.

"We had a power point presentation in the church which commemorated those we have lost in recent years as well as in times past, she said.

It was very moving. There were interviews with both people serving in our armed forces now and veterans.

It really made it relevant to families whose men and women are serving today.

Redcar RNLIs newest recruit, Ben Howard, who served in the British Army and the Merchant Navy, joined his fellow crew members to take part in the towns Remembrance Service.

Mr Howard said: "Lifeboats from the RNLI saved many lives during the world wars, from both sides of the conflicts.

Today was about remembering them, and the souls of those who didn't make it."

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