Village to pay its tributes to PoWs during VJ Day events

George Fleming, a former Far East prisoner of war from Belford.
George Fleming, a former Far East prisoner of war from Belford.

A north Northumberland village, which saw 25 of its sons become prisoners of war in the Far East, is hosting a series of events to mark VJ Day.

The Belford lads who were posted to the Far East during the Second World War suffered horribly at the hands of the Japanese as prisoners of war after the surrender of Singapore – with two never returning.

This year is the 70th anniversary of victory in Japan and the village is planning a weekend of events to mark the occasion.

St Mary’s and Erskine United Reformed churches are holding a joint service in St Mary’s Parish Church on Sunday, August 16, at 3pm.

During the service, there will be speakers, one of whom is the daughter of a Gateshead Far East prisoner of war (FEPoW), who talked about his experiences, which is unusual, and another is the great granddaughter of Les Tait, from Belford. The organisers are hoping that relatives of the FEPoWs and anyone connected with them will attend as well as the wider congregation. Tea will be served in the village museum after the service.

Next Friday, there will be a screening of the film, The Railway Man, in the Ferguson Hall at 7.30pm.

Over the weekend, there will be an exhibition in Belford Museum featuring the lives of the FEPoWs who were forced to work on the Thai-Burma railway and the history of the Second World War in the Far East.

The museum would welcome any information on and photos of the Belford men who were captured or memories of the impact on village life while they were gone, the joy of their return and impact on the families of those who did not come back as well as details of their lives before and after the war.

For example, George Fleming was so badly beaten by the Japanese that it was thought that he would never be able to work again, but he went on to become Belford’s road sweeper, helping the village to win the Best Kept Village Award.

Contact Fiona Renner-Thompson on 01668 213377.

Events taking place at a glance

Friday, August 14: Screening of The Railway Man, Ferguson Hall, 7.30pm.

Saturday & Sunday, August 15 & 16: Exhibition on lives of FEPoWs who were forced to work on the Thai-Burma railway as well as the history of the Second World War in the Far East, Belford Museum, 10am to 5pm.

Sunday, August 16: Joint service by St Mary’s and Erskine United Reformed churches, St Mary’s, 3pm.