VJ Day commemoration event in South Shields as North East remembers those who died and suffered in Far East campaign

Veterans of the Second World War’s Far East campaign have been honoured on the eve of the anniversary of VJ Day.

Tomorrow, Monday, August 15, marks 77 years since the cessation of hostilities in the Far East brought a final end to the Second World War.

Dozens of people took part in a walk from Sunderland’s cenotaph to its counterpart in Newcastle today to mark the occasion.

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The walk, organised by cancer charity Daft as a Brush, set off on its 24.5mile route from Sunderland at 7am and stopped off in South Shields for a wreath-laying service on the steps of the Town Hall, complete with a poppy drop from an overhead crane.

Unfortunately the sea fret which has plagued the coast over the last few days meant a planned fly-past by vintage aircraft was unable to go ahead.

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After leaving South Tyneside, the walk was due to make its way through Newcastle, picking up more people on he way, with organisers expecting up to 150 people to reach the final objective.

Sunderland veteran Len Gibson, who spent more than three years as a Japanese prisoner of war, was a keen supporter of Daft as a Brush and one of the charity’s ambulances is dedicated to him.

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Poppies descend from the crane

Founder Brian Burnie said the walk was the reverse of an event which was first held last year.

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“Last time we walked from Newcastle to Sunderland, this time we are walking from Sunderland to Newcastle,” he said.

"We hope we will be able to make it an annual event to allow the North East to mark VJ Day.”

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Brian said he had been overwhelmed by the numbers who had turned out to show their support: “These people are all volunteers who have given up their own time to be here,” he said.

Mayor of South Tyneside Coun Pat Ha lays a wreath
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"It is ten times bigger than last year and I am very, very moved.”

The Rev Canon Juliet Stephenson had travelled from Liverpool to lead the service.

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“When I worked as a vicar in Chapel House ten years ago, I met Brian and we used to do a lot of worth together in the parish,” she said.

"It was important to come back and show support for what is a lovely idea.”

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Brian Burnie leads the walk into South Shields
Sounding The Last Post
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The civic party on the Town Hall steps