William pays tribute to war dead

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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The Duke of Cambridge has remembered Commonwealth war dead laid to rest in Japan during a poignant ceremony.

William began the first full day of his tour of the Far East by visiting the Yokohama War Cemetery near Tokyo to a lay a wreath to commemorate the fallen.

More than 1,500 soldiers, sailors and airmen – many of them British Second World War prisoners – are buried at the tranquil site off a busy main road.

Their plots are marked by simple name plates and grouped by nations including sites for Australian, Indian, New Zealand and Canadian forces.

After Singapore fell in 1942, prisoners were transferred to a camp in Ofuna, near Yokohama, and sent to work in mines, factories and dockyards.

When Allied forces began bombing Japan as the war drew to an end, many prisoners were killed during naval bombardments and air raids.

Wearing his Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals on his overcoat, William, a former RAF search and rescue pilot, laid his wreath after the last post was sounded by a bugler and two minutes’ silence observed.

The floral tribute of chrysanthemums included a note written and signed by the Duke, which said: “May we never forget all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”

Captain Charles Ashcroft, the UK’s defence attache, gave a short speech to a small group of invited guests who included a number of his counterparts from Commonwealth nations and America.

He said: “First we must remember the terrible losses that all our countries have suffered and pay tribute to those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“We are here to pay our respects to the fallen and the wounded in all the conflicts across the world.

“We are now living in very different times, the Commonwealth and Allies stand side by side with Japan in remembrance. Today together we can pay tribute to the Japanese troops currently serving in peace keeping operations with the United Nations and in counter piracy operations with the multi-national coalition.”

After the ceremony William walked among the graves with Capt Ashcroft, as well as the US defence attache Captain James O’Leary and Major Isamu Suzuki, representing Japan.

The Duke concluded his visit by signing a visitors’ book, which had been placed next to a framed picture of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, laying a wreath at the same cemetery in 1995. Next to the picture were written the words: “May she rest in peace.”

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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