FEPOW Memorial Church

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History

Fr Ketterer arrived in Wymondham in 1934 to take over an ex carpenterís shop as the Roman Catholic Chapel in Town Green. In 1937, a house with a stable attached was bought for £1,000 which was transformed into a church. During the war years the congregation was swelled by Irish labourers building airfields in the area and until their own chaplains arrived, men of USAF bomber squadrons based locally.

In 1946, when Fr. Ketterer moved on, he left, thanks to the generosity of USAF personnel, the site, fully paid for, and £2,500 towards the building of a new church and the priestís house. At that time, the new priest, Fr Cowin, arrived.

Father Malcolm Cowin - former Roman Catholic Chaplain to the 2nd Cambridgeshire Regiment passed 3Ĺ years in Japanese POW camps. In that time he helped construct 3 chapels in different camps making a vow that, on his return, he would build a church in memory of all those who died in Japanese POW and Internment camps.

Fr Cowin in Chungkai with the Christian Japanese doctor who supplied the Communion wine.

He saw a Parish Church as a way of reaching beyond a traditional monument by creating a living and constantly revitalised memorial to those who died.

The church, designed by local architect Donovan Purcell, former surveyor to the Fabric of Ely Cathedral, was completed in 1952. Although Norfolk might not appear an obvious choice for such a memorial, it should be remembered that the 18th Division, destined to defend Singapore, but arriving just in time to be part of the surrender, was composed mainly of the Territorial Battalions of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, together with other East Anglian Regiments.

The FEPOW shrine is an integral part of the Church and Fr. Cowin said Mass each day for the War dead until he left the parish in 1965.

Today they are remembered by the memorial books whose pages are regularly turned and by the annual FEPOW memorial service which is held on the nearest Sunday to May 14th, the anniversary of the Relief of Rangoon.                                                                                            Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church in Chungkai

 

 

 

 

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