Veterans march from Newcastle to Sunderland to mark VJ Day

  • Video report by Kris Jepson

Veterans joined the North East cancer charity Daft as a Brush in a memorial walk from Newcastle to Sunderland to mark Victory over Japan Day 78 years on.

The walk started early on Sunday morning at the Burma Star Memorial at Newcastle's Civic Centre, and followed a path through the city, along the River Tyne, and then stopped off for a special service at St Paul's Church and Monastery in Jarrow.

The walkers then completed the final leg in Sunderland.

Veteran, Major Eric Ingram, told ITV News Tyne Tees: "They’re often called the Forgotten Army and quite right, because people do forget about them. They also forget the horrible, horrible conditions that those people had to suffer and how many of them died. Way above the average throughout the Second World War. It was a horrible, horrible war."

A VJ Day memorial service took place in Jarrow Credit: ITV News

Captain Christopher Dorman-O'Gowen, a veteran who took part in the walk, said many soldiers from the North East were held by the Japanese Army as prisoners of war and died there.

He said: "Those who worked on the Burma Railway, whether they liked it or not, many died, but the Northumberland Fusiliers, the graves that I have seen at Kanchanaburi, they’re all terribly young and they’re from around here as well, from Jarrow and places like that, and it’s all desperately sad and they must not be forgotten."

Lt Col Rodney Buckton lays wreath at Kanchanaburi cemetery Credit: Rodney Buckton

A veteran who recently visited the Kanchanaburi cemetery in memory of the soldiers who died as POWs, said this event reminded him of that trip.

Lieutenant Colonel Rodney Buckton said: "I was privileged to lay a wreath on behalf of the regiment, at sunset, at the main memorial in that cemetery and that will be a memory I will forever have.

"I think that it is important that people don’t forget and that they go and visit these places and we remember those, and the huge sacrifice that they made."

Bombadier Len Gibson speaking to ITV News Tyne Tees in 2020. Credit: ITV News

The founder of Daft as a Brush, who had met former WWII prisoner of war, Bombadier Len Gibson from Sunderland, said it was important to remember men like him.

Brian Burnie said: "He was a truly marvellous fellow, died at the age of 101 and I found out that he spent three and a half years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp on the River Kwai bridge, so it’s to remember Len and the Forgotten Army."

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