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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 07:47 GMT 08:47 UK
Veterans' war sacrifice honoured
Display showing new 1st class stamp
The Royal Mail is releasing a new stamp showing the blitz
Prince Charles has opened a "living museum" in London to mark the start of a week of events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The event, in St James's Park, is intended to give visitors a flavour of what life was like in wartime Britain.

This week has been nominated Veterans Awareness Week as it falls midway between VE Day and VJ Day.

Defence Secretary John Reid told BBC News it was vital the sacrifices made by wartime veterans were not forgotten.

Heroism

The museum in St James's Park is particularly aimed at young people, in the hope memories from the past can be kept alive.

Visitors will learn about some of the experiences of the wartime generation - such as air raids, black-outs and code breaking.

The Royal Mail is celebrating Veterans Awareness Week on Tuesday by issuing a new first class stamp showing St Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz.

It is about learning... just why it is necessary to take a stand and the terrible consequences if we do not do that soon enough
John Reid

Next Sunday (10 July) has been nominated National Commemoration Day. Events will include a service of thanksgiving and a flypast of Second World War vintage aircraft.

At the end of the day, with the Queen standing on the Buckingham Palace balcony, a Lancaster bomber will drop a million poppies onto The Mall in memory of those who died.

Mr Reid said the aim of Veterans Awareness Week was for people across the country to participate and learn about the events of 60 years ago.

He said: "This is not just a commemoration - although it is - for the glory and heroism of all the men and women who lived through some of the hardest times imaginable.

"It is the passing on of remembrance, it is about learning so that we can truly understand, as the next generation, just why it is necessary to take a stand and the terrible consequences if we do not do that soon enough."

Commando raid

The week's celebrations follow a re-enactment of a 1941 raid by veteran British commandos on the island of Vaagso, western Norway, on Sunday.

The raid followed Winston Churchill's vow the previous year to take the war to German-occupied Europe.

There was an emotional reunion when one commando gave a pair of gloves to a family he "borrowed" a pair of mittens from 64 years ago.

Sniper Charles Stacey was suffering in the bitter cold of the Norwegian winter in the December raid.

He said: "As a sniper, I had problems keeping my fingers warm. Then I spotted on the Christmas tree a pair of mittens. They saved the day.

"I kept those mittens with me through the war but I always felt guilty that I had stolen some innocent person's Christmas present."

Veteran's amazement

He bought a new pair of gloves in case he was able to track down the family whose house he had passed through.

But he was amazed when he knocked at the house to find the family still lived there.

Anne Osmundsvaag and her brother Andreas wept as they recalled the raid.

"Suddenly the house was invaded by soldiers and the mark on the windowsill where Charles rested his sniper rifle is still there," said Anne, now 67.

Andreas added: "When the soldiers left they formed two careful lines to escort us out to safety. We are very, very appreciative for what they did and we are deeply honoured that Charles has returned to us the little gift he took for all the right reasons 64 years ago."




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The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall at the museum



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