War veteran honoured
WAR veteran Basil Keeble has been honoured at a moving ceremony in Ipswich, with a standard raised in his memory.The 82-year-old great-grandfather was set to revisit Crete in May last year, 60 years after he was captured there as a prisoner of war.
By Matt Eley
WAR veteran Basil Keeble has been honoured at a moving ceremony in Ipswich, with a standard raised in his memory.
The 82-year-old great-grandfather was set to revisit Crete in May last year, 60 years after he was captured there as a prisoner of war. But he died suddenly a few weeks before he was due to make the visit.
However, his devoted daughter Audrey Southgate was determined that her father's memory would live on.
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Just weeks after his death, the 56-year-old, of Sidegate Lane, Ipswich, designed a standard for her father.
At a ceremony at Bramford Road Methodist Church on Sunday, that standard was raised in his honour.
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It will also be taken to Crete this year and again displayed in his memory and that of those who fought alongside him on the Greek island.
The standard was escorted to the altar by Mrs Southgate's children Donna Wade and Andrew Nunn.
The dedication ceremony was a celebration of Mr Keeble's life. The congregation was made up of friends and family keen to honour his memory in a fitting tribute to all that was important to him.
Mrs Southgate said: "It means a lot to me because it is keeping my father's memory alive. I think if he could see it now he would be thrilled to bits.
"He loved the Cretan people and he would be proud to see the standard there.
"I just wanted this to be a celebration of his life and not a sombre occasion.
"He would have been so proud to see his grandchildren escorting the standard to the altar."
Mrs Southgate designed the standard herself. It incorporates the Union Flag, along with those of Australia, New Zealand and Greece, representing all the troops who fought for the Allies in Crete.
It also has the emblem of the Royal Army Medical Corps, in which Mr Keeble served. The bottom of the standard is emblazoned with the words "Crete Veterans and Friends Society".
Sunday was a proud day for both Audrey and her husband Bill, who carried the standard to the ceremony.
The standard will travel to Crete next month so Mr Keeble can be honoured there. Mrs Southgate will also be taking souvenirs from her father's war days to put on display in an archive museum in the city of Chania.
Items that will be displayed at the museum include Mr Keeble's army uniform, ration books and an article about his life that featured in The Evening Star last year.
Mr Keeble was one of 30,000 under-equipped Allied troops who came under aerial attack on Crete from the Nazi forces in May 1941. As a medic he treated casualties from both sides before being captured. He remained a prisoner for two years until his release in 1943 following an agreement between opposing sides about the exchange of prisoners of war.
Eventually he returned to his wife Irene in Ipswich.
The couple celebrated 62 years of marriage shortly before Mr Keeble's death. His widow still lives at their Sidegate Lane home.
The Battle of Crete is considered by many to be a turning point in the Second World War. Although the Nazis were victorious, they lost many troops and subsequently adopted more cautious tactics.
At the end of the battle Hitler vowed never to launch another assault by parachutists.