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Proud day for war veterans

PUBLISHED: 13:52 19 August 2009 | UPDATED: 15:21 07 July 2010

A newly-made flag remembering the Norfolk second world war soldiers taken prisoner in the Far East was raised in Dereham to mark the anniversary of VJ Day.

A newly-made flag remembering the Norfolk second world war soldiers taken prisoner in the Far East was raised in Dereham to mark the anniversary of VJ Day.

The flag, which was proudly hoisted up one of the flagpole's at the town's war memorial for the first time on Friday, is a replica of the Dereham FEPOW (Far East Prisoners of War) Association's standard.

Its presence in the town is extremely poignant because for the past five years these brave soldiers have not been represented by either a flag or a standard in Dereham after the FEPOW standard was laid up in the parish church because of dwindling numbers.

Town resident and historian Susan Palmer, who has been recording the histories of the prisoners of war, had led the campaign to get the replica made and the town council and members of the community donated funds to make it possible.

Miss Palmer was extremely moved when she finally saw the flag flying in Dereham.

She said: “It is absolutely fantastic. I am really pleased because it is extremely important we remember what these men went through.”

Eighty-eight-year-old Bill Craske, from Dereham, was one of the five people who designed the original standard in the 1950s when the FEPOW Association was founded in Dereham and he carried the standard for 30 years.

He was a private in the 5th Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment in the 18th Infantry Division. He arrived in Singapore in January 1942 and was taken prisoner by the Japanese just weeks later in February 1942.

He said it was emotional seeing the flag at the war memorial and a fitting act of remembrance.

The flag, which will now be flown on the anniversary of VJ Day every year, will be dedicated at a special ceremony organised by Dereham Town Council at Dereham Memorial Hall on Saturday.

VJ Day, or Victory over Japan Day, is the day on which Japan surrendered in 1945, effectively ending the second world war.

If people wish to attend the flag dedication they should contact the town council in advance on 01362 693821.

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