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Date issued: 8 May 2020
Standing separate but together, Colchester’s civic and military dignitaries marked 75 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe.
A small ceremony to mark VE Day was held at Merville Barracks today (Fri 8 May) in place of a public service planned for the town centre War Memorial that was cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.
Observing social distancing throughout, The Mayor of Colchester Cllr Nick Cope and the Bishop of Colchester The Right Reverend Roger Morris joined Brigadier John Clark, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel Jim McManus, Commander of Colchester Garrison for the service.
After observing the two-minute national silence at 11am, wreathes were laid at the barrack’s Pegasus statue including one on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst, Her Majesty The Queen’s representative in the county.
Lt Col McManus said: “During the Second World War Colchester was a garrison town, as it is now. It is important that the town’s military and civilian communities have come together today - albeit at a smaller scale than we wanted to do - to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Soldiers from the barracks fought bravely and made the ultimate sacrifice on all fronts, as the town suffered through rationing, bombing and restrictions on everyday life. We remember the shared endeavour and sacrifices, celebrate the hard-fought victory, and draw inspiration as we face the current challenge of coronavirus.”
The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Nick Cope, said: “Although we were not able to publicly commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day as we would have hoped, today’s ceremony provided a moment to reflect on the momentous collective struggle that turned ordinary life upside-down during World War Two and which resonates with the uncertain times we are living through today.
“The fight to defeat Fascism left a permanent mark on those who experienced it and set the world on course for the one we enjoy and take for granted today. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to that wartime generation and to the sacrifices they made to rid the world of tyranny.
“I hope, on this 75th Anniversary of VE Day, that we will continue to find inspiration and encouragement in their fortitude to help each other and our communities overcome the challenges we now face.”