Veterans in Preston mark VJ Day in private due to Covid restrictions

Veterans in Preston were determined to mark the 75th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War, even if it meant doing it in secret.

By Brian Ellis
Saturday, 15th August 2020, 7:00 am

So around a dozen ex-service personnel, some in their nineties, met up in private yesterday to honour those who gave their lives in the 1939-45 conflict.

As with VE Day back in May, VJ Day could not be celebrated in public due to Preston’s increased lockdown measures.

So in a quiet corner of the city’s main cemetery a bugler and a piper joined standard bearers to salute the WW2 generation and lay wreaths to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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Colonel David Waters and Preston Mayor Coun David Borrow lay wreaths at the war memorial in the city centre.

“It was excellent,” said retired Colonel David Waters who is president of the Preston and District Veterans’ Council.

“In a small way it made up for the fact that we couldn’t have our VJ Day parade in the city centre.

“We didn’t advertise the fact we would be doing it because we didn’t want people to turn out in great numbers.

"Having to cancel our parade in the city centre today was incredibly disappointing. But I still felt we had to do something, we couldn’t let the occasion pass without paying our respects.

Former WW2 Dakota pilot Stuart Taylor, 95, from Penwortham pays his respects after laying a wreath at the memorial in the cemetery.

“Someone asked me if it had been a difficult decision to call off the parade, but I said it had been an easy decision to make. We had veterans in their 90s involved and we had to protect them from the virus at all costs.”

Former WW2 Dakota pilot Stuart Taylor (inset) from Penwortham, now 95, laid the wreath on behalf of the veterans.

Colonel Waters and the Mayor of Preston Coun David Borrow later went to the war memorial in the city centre to lay another wreath.

Standard bearers lower their flags in tribute to those who died in WW2.