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Tributes to ‘railway of death’ heroes at PoW memorial

VJ Day service at memorial paid for by CNJ reader donations

24 August, 2017 — By Steve Barnett

Charlie and Tommy Reid with their great-grandfather’s medals

HEADS were bowed in honour on Saturday as war veterans and their families gathered in Mornington Crescent for a memorial service marking the 72nd anniversary of VJ Day.

§The ceremony took place at the Far East Prisoners of War peace memorial, which was unveiled in 2012 to honour soldiers who fought in the Far East and were incarcerated during World War II. The commemorative stone, paid for through the generosity of New Journal readers, remembers those who worked on the Burma Railway, which became known as the “railway of death”.

Deputy Mayor Jenny Headlam-Wells, Councillor Roger Robinson and Sgt Major Chris Maynard were among dignitaries who addressed the crowd. Air cadets from 329 Finsbury Squadron and Pearly King and Prince of Finsbury John and Darren Walters were in attendance.

“We’re gathered here at the Far East Prisoners of War peace memorial, the only one of its kind in London, and we’re proud to have it in the borough of Camden,” Cllr Headlam-Wells told those present. “Many residents of Camden were imprisoned, tortured and forced to work on the Burma Railway, which is why we see railway sleepers incorporated in the design of the memorial. The concrete base is a time capsule containing personal items from a Camden resident who suffered at the hands of the Japanese. And the granite block on the memorial is engraved with a copy of the sketch ‘Man with a Boulder’ by Ronald Searle, who worked on the Burma Railway.”

Among those who gathered were Charlie and Tommy Reid, the great-grandchildren of former prisoner of war Alfonso Antonio ‘Tone’ Garizio, who died in March at the age of 97. As a mark of respect they wore their great-grandfather’s war medals.

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