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Lichfield Cathedral and the National Memorial Arboretum to host commemorations for 70th anniversary of VJ Day

Lichfield will host events to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in the Far East.

Charity the Children and Families of Far East Prisoners of War (COFEPOW) will welcome former prisoners of war to a commemoration service in Lichfield Cathedral on VJ day on August 15, featuring an address by Terry Waite CBE.

There will then be a service at the National Memorial Arboretum at 12.15pm the following day, followed by a flypast by an historic DC-3 Dakota plane.

COFEPOW spokesman Paul Watson said he expected hundreds to attend.

“Sadly, many of the prisoners of war who returned from the Far East are no longer with us and so younger people often do not know about this important chapter in our history,” he added.

“The suffering of many of our fathers and grandfathers was immense – 50,000 of them never even returned alive.”

After the end of the war in Europe, many British and Commonwealth soldiers and civilians were still in captivity.

Following the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in February 1942, almost 200,000 troops became prisoners of war. Thousands left Singapore on prison ships to be used as forced labour in other parts of Asia.

Paul added: “Nearly 10,000 of the transported men died building the Burma-Thailand railway, with many more dying as a result of starvation, barbaric treatment and tropical diseases.

“Many people have relatives that were prisoners of war in the Far East and COFEPOW was founded to help them keep the memories of their loved ones alive.

“Many of these families will be in Lichfield to take part in the commemorations and the public are welcome to join them.”

For more information on the events, visit the COFEPOW website.

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