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Remembrance service marks Czech, Slovak and Polish sacrifices during Second World War

PUBLISHED: 15:24 12 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:39 12 November 2017

A special annual Remembrance Service at St Ethelbert's Church in Wretham where Czech, Slovac and Polish soldiers in served in the area during WW2 are remembered.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

A special annual Remembrance Service at St Ethelbert's Church in Wretham where Czech, Slovac and Polish soldiers in served in the area during WW2 are remembered. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Archant 2017

On Armistice Day, it is customary to reflect on the sacrifices that “our boys” have made in conflicts across the world.

A special annual Remembrance Service at St Ethelbert's Church in Wretham where Czech, Slovac and Polish soldiers in served in the area during WW2 are remembered.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017A special annual Remembrance Service at St Ethelbert's Church in Wretham where Czech, Slovac and Polish soldiers in served in the area during WW2 are remembered. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

But one Norfolk service marked the equally important contributions made by foreign refugees in the name of Britain.

Since 2004, the Thetford Royal Air Forces Association and Wretham and Hockham Royal British Legion have commemorated the 12 Czech and Slovak and two Polish servicemen who served at RAF Honington and East Wretham Airfield during the Second World War.

The poignant service, held at St Ethelbert’s Church, Wretham, was led by the Rev Helen Jary, with wreathes and poppy crosses placed on the Commonwealth graves.

John Macpherson, chairman of RAF Association Thetford and District Branch, said the event was started 13 years ago “because there was no formal ceremony whatsoever for those guys to remember what they did or what they went through”.

A special annual Remembrance Service at St Ethelbert's Church in Wretham where Czech, Slovac and Polish soldiers in served in the area during WW2 are remembered.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017A special annual Remembrance Service at St Ethelbert's Church in Wretham where Czech, Slovac and Polish soldiers in served in the area during WW2 are remembered. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

The men had fled oppression in their own countries from the Nazis before escaping to Britain, where they then fought with as much dedication as UK nationals and gave their lives in service to this country.

“We quite rightly remember what our own personnel did but these were guys who were forced out of their own countries to carry on taking the fight to Nazi Germany,” Mr Macpherson added.

“A lot of them lost their lives doing that and we have to remember them, as well as the people in this country.

“We have to try and remember them as much as our own, because of what they did.

A special annual Remembrance Service at St Ethelbert's Church in Wretham where Czech, Slovac and Polish soldiers in served in the area during WW2 are remembered.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017A special annual Remembrance Service at St Ethelbert's Church in Wretham where Czech, Slovac and Polish soldiers in served in the area during WW2 are remembered. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

“They most definitely left a lasting legacy.”

The service on Wednesday, November 8 attracted large crowds, as well as representatives from the Czech and Polish embassies in London.

On Remembrance Sunday, Wretham and Hockham Royal British Legion held its Armistice Day service at St Ethelbert’s Church in Larling at 10.45am.

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