Page last updated at 15:23 GMT, Sunday, 10 July 2005 16:23 UK

Respect and berets as WWII marked

By Tom Bourton
BBC Wales news website

Katherine Jenkins
Neath singer Katherine Jenkins entertained the crowd

They fought on the beaches, they fought on the oceans and, on Sunday, they gathered to remember fallen comrades.

At events all across Wales, veterans grouped to mark 60 years since the end of WWII.

The biggest commemoration took place in Cardiff, attended by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Wherever they served and whatever their former rank, the overwhelming feeling was one of respect from ex-soldier to ex-soldier.

As people took their seats, wearing a mixture of military berets and sunhats, there were nods and handshakes between old friends and comrades.

Buggy
Buggies were used to ferry people to the event

Hundreds took part in the proud march through the city streets, which was followed by ripples of spontaneous clapping as shoppers broke off from browsing to watch them pass.

As the marchers - from the Army, Navy, RAF and Home Front - reached the stage set in Coopers Field, the choir were just completing a rousing version of Men of Harlech.

Among the throngs waiting for them were the assembly's presiding officer, Dafydd Elis Thomas, and the opposition leaders Nick Bourne, Ieuan Wyn Jones and Mike German.

Meanwhile, First Minister Rhodri Morgan, along with Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, was in the line-up meeting the Royal party as they arrived.

Duchess of Cornwall
The Duchess of Cornwall spoke to many of the audience

Everyone took their seats, and the service began.

There was a reading from Mr Morgan, a hymn from Katherine Jenkins and prayers read by members of the Inter Faith Council for Wales.

Prince Charles also laid a wreath, and an address from the Archbishop of Cardiff Peter Smith touched on the world's continuing conflict, with mention of September 11 and Thursday's attacks on London.

There was no doubt that the week's events added to the day's poignancy.

As the fly-past of Hawks from RAF Valley on Anglesey signalled the end of the formal service, the Royals became the focus as they slowly meandered through the crowds, stopping and talking to as many people as they could.

Despite needing to dash back to London for the national service taking place in the afternoon, they took their time.

As many left their seats in search of much-needed refreshment, Prince Charles and Camilla remained, chatting about all the medals that adorned the smartly-preserved uniforms all around them.

A tank standing at Coopers Field
A tank on display at the Coopers Field commemoration event

And their presence was welcomed by those they met.

Bernard Jones, 83, from St Mellons in Cardiff, talked to Prince Charles about his service in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

"I was discussing my naval exploits - he was very interested," he said.

"I think it was the highlight - it was marvellous."

Megan Wilde, 75, from Nelson, met Camilla and told her she was representing her husband Ieuan, who passed away 13 years ago.

Prince Charles
Prince Charles laid a wreath during the service

"It was very nice, she was very friendly and charming," she said of the meeting. "She said 'If it wasn't for people like your husband, we wouldn't be here today'."

And then they were gone, but the day was not over. After a short break Katherine Jenkins returned, bringing Aled Jones with her for an afternoon of entertainment to the massed crowds who sat back to enjoy one of the year's sunniest days.

SEE ALSO
Slate mine hid WWII art treasures
09 Jul 05 |  North West Wales

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