Mayor Michael Ruston and Bill Cunliffe pay their respects, above, and inset the mayor lays a wreath. Picture: Ian Burt

Hunstanton held its annual memorial service on Wednesday for the 31 victims claimed by the North Sea during the 1953 floods.

Town Mayor Michael Ruston led the way, placing a wreath at the plaque in Esplanade Gardens. He was joined by Bill Cunliffe, from the Hunstanton Society, who also laid a wreath.

Mr Ruston said: “It was a tragedy and there are still a lot of people about in Hunstanton who remember it happening when they were children.

“Whole families were lost and many children lost friends – all of a sudden there were gaps at school.”

Of those that died on January 31, 71 years ago, some 16 were American citizens with ties to the USAF.

Representatives of the American air force’s 67th Special Operations Squadron attended the ceremony to pay their respects to those who died, and to remember two US servicemen who battled the rising waters and saved countless lives.

Reis Leming and Freeman Kilpatrick have both had walkways named after them in the Esplanade Gardens.

Floral tributes for the service were created by Maria Rix.