Saturday, 15 August 2015

The seventieth anniversary of VJ-Day ... Victory over Japan Day.

Today marks the seventieth anniversary of VJ-Day ... Victory over Japan Day.

The day has been marked by a number of events across the UK, including a drumhead service on Horse Guards Parade and a flypast by the last airworthy example of a Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber.

Even the youngest of the veterans is now in their late eighties, and it is doubtful if more than a handful will still be alive in 2025 when the eightieth anniversary comes around. We will not see their like again ... and it is important that their heroism must not be forgotten.

Had he still been alive, my father-in-law would have been one of the veterans who could have attended the anniversary celebrations ... not that he would have done.

He had joined the British Army soon after the outbreak of the war, and after serving as an infantryman on the south coast on coastal defence duties, he had joined the Royal Signals. He then spent time in Scotland installing and repairing telephone wires for the Army before being posted to India. The unit he was attached to took part in the fighting around Imphal and Kohima, and he was wounded. He also suffered from a serious dose of malaria, coupled with shell-shock. After he had spent time in hospital and in a convalescence facility, he was retrained as a cook (a trade that he had been unofficially fulfilling whilst in the Signals). He eventually became the cook for Rear HQ SEAC (South East Asia Command) in Dehli, where he prepared meals for - amongst others - Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten.

After the war he returned to civilian life, where he became a postman ... a job he remained in until he retired in 1980. Because of his experiences during the war, he never claimed the medals he was entitled to.

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