World War II anniversary remembered with parade

FORMER Far East Prisoners of War Henry McCreath and Eric Lomax fronted a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Surrender of Singapore last Wednesday.

The Berwick pair, now aged 96 and 92 respectively, attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Castlegate war memorial alongside family and friends, serving soldiers, the Mayor and civic dignitaries.

The nonagenarians were members of the Territorial Army serving in Singapore during World War Two when they were taken prisoner by the Japanese and sent to work on the notorious Burma-Siam railway.

Mr Lomax famously wrote a book, The Railway Man, about the horrors of his time in captivity which is currently being made into a feature film starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz.

Mr McCreath, who was made an honorary freeman of Berwick last year in recognition of his significant contribution to the town, made it to the ceremony despite recent ill health.

They took part in a commemorative parade at midday which includes prayers, a wreath laying ceremony and a rendition of The Last Post.

The commemorative event was organised by Brigadier SRD Marr MBE, the Colonel Northumberland for the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

The Surrender of Singapore took place on February 15, 1942. The 9th Battalion the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers had arrived in Singapore by troopship some 10 days before and were amongst more than 140,000 Commonwealth troops who General Percival allowed to be taken into captivity for more than three and a half years. Prime Minister Winston Churchill described the fall of Singapore as ‘the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history’.

Many of the FEPOW’s died as a result of the ill-treatment they received from the Japanese forces as a result of being used as forced labour.