15th August 2015 marked the 70th Anniversary of V.J.Day - the day that WWII ended. Within our local branch of the British Legion we have veterans who took part in the conflict in the Far East, in particular one gentleman, Peter Gadston was at the Battle of Kohema.
While the nation marked the anniversary of the end of WWII in a variety of events, our local veterans expressed a wish to commemorate the ‘Conclusion of Conflict’ with a tea party in our home village of Alfriston to acknowledge peace and homecoming for themselves, their families and friends.
As soon as the wish was expressed several of the villagers immediately offered to create a special party to mark V.J.Day as a Home-Coming in joy and peace. From the outset everyone we spoke to came forward with offers of help, contributions and donations. All gratefully received.
The Old Chapel Centre was decorated in white and gold with beautiful floral arrangements and table pieces of flowers and herbs from fields around and local gardens.
Members of the W.I. served tea and homemade cakes and biscuits, including scones with homemade jams. We were entertained with a glorious singalong accompanied by accordion and keyboards.
As an introduction to precedings our special guest Peter Gadsdon gave a speech recounting his experiences in Kohema and his affiliation to the Reconciliation Committee after V.J. Day. He recited the Kohema prayer and presented the 1 minute silence. Guests at the gathering were offered a small token gift of a tee light candle and sprig of lavender to take home as a symbol of light and life in our world.
The tea party was attended by the veterans, a large number of W.I. ladies and many people from the village and surrounding area. Families on holiday, visiting the Tye, called in and young and old joined in paying their respects and listening to stories of sadness and mourning, yet courage, friendship and compassion.
The veterans were delighted by the gift of this occasion. They expressed an interest in holding further social gatherings to get to know members of the Alfriston community and the surrounding villages.
We would indeed be delighted to continue to show our interest and appreciation by joining with the veterans of the valley in their social activities and at the commemorative events of the British Legion.
On Rememberance Sunday, the Royal British Legion gather at 10.30 am. in The Square, Alfriston. The parade march off at 10.40 a.m. to St Andrews Church for the Remembrance Service. Any of the public, who wishes to join the parade and represent present and past family and friends, would be very welcome. We would also welcome representation of animals used in conflict, (dogs, pigeons, horses).
There will also be a gathering at the Market Square on Armistice Day - Wed 11th November followed by refreshments in The Old Chapel Centre - to which everyone is invited.
We would like to hear from any veterans or members of the services living in the Valley who would be interested in joining us at our gatherings. Everyone is welcome!
We are putting together a collection of archives and memorabilia of the British Legion and we would be delighted to receive any items or images that could be shared with the community. We have an album of photographs from the V.J. Day party in book form and CD disc which we would be able to share and pass on to anyone interested.
The local British Legion are hosting a table in St Andrews Church at the forthcoming Skills Cafe - Sat 10th October. They will be presenting images and information on their social activities and special events and invite you all to come along and meet them at this special community event.