Service remembers POWs

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The suffering and sacrifice of Lanarkshire prisoners of war in the Far East has been remembered at a moving annual service in Motherwell.

Held at the VJ (Victory over Japan) memorial at Motherwell’s Civic Centre, the occasion united ex-servicemen’s families, civic dignitaries and clergy in heart-felt tribute and sorrow.

Among those present was Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire Mushtaq Ahmad, North Lanarkshire Provost James Robertson and the Reverend Georgina Baxendale of Motherwell South Parish Church who conducted the service.

They had gathered to pay homage to the men of 155th (Lanarkshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment RA, and many other units, on whom Japanese forces inflicted inhuman cruelty in the wake of the fall of Singapore in 1942.

North Lanarkshire Provost James Robertson said: “We in Lanarkshire are only too well aware of the sacrifice made by local men and, indeed men from all over the UK, who served with Lanarkshire Regiments in the Far East during WWII.

“The war in the Far East lasted longer than the war in Europe, ranged over almost the whole continent and involved a level of sacrifice on a scale we cannot begin to imagine.”

The Reverend Georgina Baxendale, honoured POWs who died, for example in the mines of Formosa, the Death Railway in Burma, and the prison death camps run by Japanese forces.

Campbell Thomson of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry Group said: “Those POWs who survived their ordeal returned home in a dreadful state, both physically and mentally, and all of them suffered, in some way or another, for the rest of their lives.

“What made it worse was that the horror they had endured was ignored by the British authorities.

“And in the eyes of many, they were cowards for having been taken prisoner following the fall of Singapore.

“It was a cruel hurt which they did not deserve and they and their families had to live with it all their lives.

“Now (with services like the one in Motherwell) something is being done to right what was a terrible wrong.”