Thousands pay their respects at Sunderland's Remembrance service

A veteran who helped lead Sunderland's Remembrance Service has spoken of how it has made him proud to be British - but prouder still to be from the city.

Len Gibson, 97, from West Herrington, was a member of the Territorial Army before the Second World War broke out and had signed up alongside six others from Bishopwearmouth Choir.

The Standard Bearers lower their flags during Sunderland's Remebrance Service.

The Standard Bearers lower their flags during Sunderland's Remebrance Service.

He went on to join the 125 Anti-Tank Regiment as a bombardier and was off the coast of Singapore in 1942 when the boat he was on took a hit.

When he and his fellow servicemen managed to reach the shore, they were taken prisoner by the Japanese and he remained in on of its prisons until VJ day, August 15, 1945.

He has read the Far East Prisoner of War Prayer at Sunderland's Remembrance Service for many years, with his gesture once again forming part of the ceremony before the war memorial in Burdon Road and to a crowd of thousands.

Len, who went on to become a teacher and taught at Commercial Road and Hastings Hill primaries, said: "Today is of primary importance to me.

The Union Flag was waved by members of the crowd.

The Union Flag was waved by members of the crowd.

"Every year I'm amazed at the turn out from the people of Sunderland and it makes me feel marvellous.

"I'm proud to be British but I'm prouder to be from Sunderland."

Len wore his medals, his Pacific Star, Victory Medal, 1939-45 War Medal, and TA long service medal.

Deputy leader of Sunderland City Council Harry Trueman said: "I don't think there's anywhere outside London that organises it better than Sunderland City Council.

The Armed Services are led in a parade down Burdon Road.

The Armed Services are led in a parade down Burdon Road.

"The people of Sunderland absolutely love the Armed Forces and admire what they do and it shows in the number of people who come out today, which has been such a cold day, and they have come in their hundreds, probably thousands, to remember those people that gave their lives."

Veteran George Waller, who served in the RAF in World War II, recicted the first four verses of the famous war poem 'For the Fallen' before the two minute silence.

The ceremony featured field guns from the city's adopted regiment, 4 Regiment Royal Artillery, to mark the start and end of the silence, with the event co-ordinated by Regimental Sergeant Major WOI Stephen Fraser.

The parade was led by The Royals Signals (Northern Band) and the Bearpark and Esh Colliery Band.

Other units to take part include 21 Engineer Regiment, The Light Dragoons, 5 Armoured Medical Regiment, 3 Rifles, Gurkha Company, RAF Boulmer, and HMS Calliope.

The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Doris MacKnight gave the Commemorative Address during the service.

Thousands were involved in today's service.

Thousands were involved in today's service.

The final section of the ceremony saw the service men and women march outside the Borough Road doors of Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden for a march past of dignitaries.

The salute was taken by Brigadier Oliver Stokes MBE, Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Major Eric Ingram MBE, DL in addition to the mayor.

A salute is given during the ceremony, which brought together 4 Regiment Royal Artillery, 21 Engineer Regiment, The Light Dragoons, 5 Armoured Medical Regiment, 3 Rifles, Gurkha Company, RAF Boulmer, and HMS Calliope.

A salute is given during the ceremony, which brought together 4 Regiment Royal Artillery, 21 Engineer Regiment, The Light Dragoons, 5 Armoured Medical Regiment, 3 Rifles, Gurkha Company, RAF Boulmer, and HMS Calliope.

The Standard Bearers stand before the war memorial on Burdon Road.

The Standard Bearers stand before the war memorial on Burdon Road.

The Royal Signals (Northern) Band parade by Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden.

The Royal Signals (Northern) Band parade by Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden.

Crowds lined the streets to applaud the Armed Services.

Crowds lined the streets to applaud the Armed Services.