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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 August 2005, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Remembering the war's forgotten men
Veterans at the Cenotaph
Some veterans paused for reflection at the Cenotaph after the service
Hundreds of people gathered at the Cenotaph in central London on Sunday to observe the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II hostilities in the Far East - and to honour those who fell.

But with veterans getting older each year, are enough of us taking time to remember the sacrifices of those who served in the so-called "forgotten war"?

The campaign in the Far East took on that description because the fighting that continued there into the summer of 1945 tended to be overlooked in the euphoria that greeted Germany's surrender months earlier.

Sunday's service was the last of a long programme of ceremonies stretching back to May that marked 60 years since World War II ended.

Nevertheless, crowds lined Whitehall four or five deep in places to ensure that the ceremony would not be overshadowed like the conflict it sought to commemorate.

The more enthusiastic - and agile - among the spectators even scaled walls along the side of the street for a better vantage point.

People don't realise what these people went through, there and at home
Pamela Dulley, who attended the service

As Big Ben rang out at noon, two buglers sounded the Last Post to herald the start of the service.

Veterans and pipers from the Irish Guards carried 30 standards to the Cenotaph, where the Prince of Wales, armed forces chiefs and other veterans laid wreaths.

Albert Tregiskes, who served in North Africa and the Middle East during the war, was among those watching the ceremony.

He said it was important to see a group of men forgotten at the time of their greatest hardships get their due recognition.

"When you see them all marching on days like this, with their shoulders back and their heads held high, they are so proud and so am I," he said.

'Disappointing'

But he said that, given that most World War II veterans are into their 80s, it was disappointing not to see more young people lining the street.

And with the Royal British Legion acknowledging that this year could be the last big milestone able to be attended to by veterans, interest from younger people is becoming ever more important.

Many of those present on Sunday were from the wartime generation - veterans, their widows or their children.

One woman, Pamela Dulley, from Middlesex, said she felt it was important to watch the ceremony as she was from a military family.

Prince Charles at the Cenotaph
The Prince of Wales was first to lay a wreath in the service
But she too said more people needed to show they were interested in ensuring the stories of those who fought were kept alive.

"More people need to come and remember. People don't realise what these people went through, there and at home," she said.

Others who turned out were tourists, attracted by the chance to see some British pomp and pageantry.

"Tourists want to come along to this sort of thing and see Prince Charles, which is understandable. But young people don't seem to be interested and they need to be," Ms Dulley said.

But one young man in the crowd had made more of an effort than most to attend the service. Stuart Denyer - who is 25 - said he had come all the way from Washington DC to watch the ceremony.

"I had family involved in the war so coming here was my way of saying 'thank you' to the veterans," he said.

"I don't know how those guys survived. It is truly awesome."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Archive footage of the end of the Second World War



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