Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

65 Years Ago.


That is my Dad, in the centre of the photo,  the guy in the white shirt.

Dad Burma 1

15 August 2010

The Japanese surrendered to the Allied Forces on 14 August 1945, and the next day, Wednesday 15 August, was celebrated as VJ (Victory over Japan) Day. Japan formally surrendered on 2 September 1945 at a ceremony in Tokyo Bay on USS Missouri.

Celebrations happened across the UK, and thousands braved the rain to watch King George VI and the Queen drive down the Mall in an open carriage. The Royal Family greeted cheering crowds from the Palace balcony, and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret mingled with the crowds outside later that day.


Dad Burma 2

Dad was in the Royal Engineers and served in Burma.

The other day, my Mum, announced ‘I’ve bought each of you a book. It’s not bed time reading. But I wanted the three of you to have a copy’.

The book, Road of Bones, written by Fergal Keane.

Dad Burma 3

(Edit, a Remembrance day post  for 2011, can be found here)


Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

23 thoughts on “65 Years Ago.

  1. Uphilldowndale

    Order extra tissues in or a large supply of handkerchiefs.

  2. I have the greatest respect and admiration for the men who fought and endured to the limits of endurance in a war which most of us know nothing of.

    i have ordered Road of Bones from my library.

  3. I’ve read that book and it nearly broke my heart.

    My great uncle came home in late 1945, a shadow of his former self, after years in captivity. He never spoke a word about it. He went off to Singapore leaving behind a pregnant wife, and came home to twin sons who were 5 years old. After his death, his sons told us that every night, before bed, he said a prayer for all his comrades who never came back.

  4. It’s hard to understand our parents’ time. A war that in full spate truly encompassed the world. A war that had a definitive end, complete with bells ringing and ceremonial treaty signings. Very different from our own time. I will be interested to learn what you think of Road of Bones.

  5. My dad was a U.S.Marine who fought in the Pacific during WWII. He, too, speaks very little about it. That any of then, soldiers and civilians, who experienced the horrors of that war were able to get on with their lives after all they went through says a great deal about the Human spirit. My dad’s generation grew up during the great depression of the 1930s, and came of age during WWII. My dad was one of the lucky ones. He made it out alive. So many didn’t. He will be 88 this Friday.

  6. My father was there too – he was in the Indian Army, signals. His time in Burma scarred him terribly but was also the time of his life; in later years he renewed contact with former Indian Army personnel, he needed to be with people with whom he had shared the experience. He came to the UK post war – but it never lived up to the dreams he’d had of a better life after the war, dreams he’d had whilst in a tent in Burma, scared witless, having to kill to defend his life. It was so terrible for all nations, all people and whilst proud of our own country’s and allies actions we were the enemy to many. May peace win through.

  7. Hello, my father was in the 14th Army, (as a Gunner) as well, and like most never really spoke of his experiences, just the odd funny story when we were children. I have read about Burma and it really was tough.

  8. The ‘forgotten army’.

    All becomes clear now as we can see where many of your adventurous genes come from!

    Japanese state visit, May 1998:

    ‘The visit began on Tuesday when former POWs symbolically turned their backs on Emperor Akihito as he was taken by the Queen along The Mall in London to Buckingham Palace’

    ‘Former prisoners-of-war and civilian internees were demanding a full apology for their treatment in World War II, during which a third of all POWs of the Japanese died’

    Great post.

  9. Dad never told us much about his time there, like Charles it was the odd story that came up time again, the huge snakes, the animals brushing up against the tent at night; the food, the lack of it and the ‘bully beef’ and the leave he spent on a tea plantation. But then I never really asked; or understood.
    It has been my mum that talked about the fact they were the ‘forgotten army’ that whilst others were out celebrating VE day, many families were still fraught with worry. Do you remember the TV series from the 1980’s, Tenko? My mum could not bare to be in the same room when it was on.

  10. You’ve been linked from Inspector Gadget today, so expect an influx of readers.

    Thanks for suggesting Road of Bones, I intend to buy it.

    My pops was in Burma too, with the REME. He doesn’t talk much about the fighting, but the privations, malaria & general conditions affected him. His contempt for the Japanese (treatment of POWs) was such, that he would never buy a Japanese car, TV or electrical goods. [Even when some were made in Wales]

  11. Another moving book about being a Japanese POW is The Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Urquhart. The author worked on the Burma Railway, was torpedoed on a POW ship, then was 10 miles away from one of the nuclear bombs dropped in Japan. He cheated death several times. Perhaps a clue to the effect on him was that his book, like many others, wasn’t written until decades later.

    On a personal level my grandfather served on the Western Front in WW1 from October 1914 to the end of the war. He made it home, two of his brothers didn’t. One waas serving in India at the outbreak of the war. He was kept there when the regiment embarked for the middle east as he was a HQ radio operator. after several appeals to his CO he got to join his regiment. He was killed in his first battle. One got within 30 miles of home but drowned in the Iolaire disaster off Stornaway Harbour. A troopship taking demobbed servicemen home from the war sank with over 200 drowned on New Years Day 1919. I believe it is the worst peacetime maritime disaster in UK waters in recent history. It’s largely forgotten now. I bought my mother a recently published book on the incident but she couldn’t bring herself to read it.

  12. buying Japanese. . . .
    During the war my father did EOD in Hull and then airfield construction in the Pacific.
    In the 70’s and and early 80’s he was a transport manager and, with his bosses’ support, declined invitations to even consider buying Japanese kit.
    He was quite peeved in the mid 60’s when a wheelbearing that failed on his Ford Zephyr turned out to be Japanese.


  13. Didn’t want to read and run (gadget regular!)

    Very moving post and I will read that book too.

    I have just got back from a Remembrance service where my 3yr and 2yr old children behaved impeccably for over an hour. One very proud mum here today.

  14. Just returned from taking part in the Remembrance Day ceremony at my local cenotaph. Sad to see so many ‘old boys’ missing this year – the list grows longer each time. My grandfather was on the Western Front in WW1 and was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre for crawling into no-mans-land and rescuing a wounded Belgian officer. He survived the War but suffered terrible flashbacks and panic attacks the rest of his life. My father was in Hong Kong when it was overrun by the Japanese and refused to talk about his experiences – like Peewee he would have no truck with anything Japanese, even walking two miles in the rain rather than take a lift in a Honda motor car. My own experiences in Malaya, Borneo, and Northern Ireland don’t compare with the horrors either of my ancestors lived through though they were bad enough. On many occasions I tried to persuade my father and Grandfather to write about their experiences but they both said that they were best forgotten – a bit like the attitude of politicians who make their appearances at war memorials and then go off to there subsidised gin and tonic lifestyles at the expense of those who truly served.

  15. Here’s a link to something I did few years ago in the part of the world I was working in at the time.

    The COFEPOW site is full of heartbreaking stories of men and women who did not come back and th eones that did were never the same after that.


    “Lest we forget”

  16. My Great Uncle Joe served in the Royal Navy during WW2 and was posted to the Far East. He was an electrical engineer by trade and had served his apprenticeship on the Clyde.

    He survived an attack on his ship where many of his shipmates were killed, burned alive or drowned below decks. The engineers were a close knit bunch and Joe had served his apprenticeship with many of them.

    After the war he emigrated to the USA, claiming that he was fed up of endless strikes. In truth, everywhere he went he saw ghosts.

    He became a pillar of the local Scottish/American community. No favour was too difficult to ask for, no task impossible.

    He never married. He had a succession of girlfriends, many of whom were wonderful women who tried hard to save him from himself.

    Joe drank himself to death. It took him 40 years but he got there in the end. Another casualty of war.

    RIP Joseph Boland.

  17. My father who fought the Japanese in Burma, and was held a prisoner by them, would not buy anything Japanese.
    After the war he had a total hatred of them, to the point when in 1967 bought a Suzuki motor cycle, I had to park it outside on the street as he would not let me bring it onto his premises, as he considered it to be an insult to all his comrades who were no longer alive,
    or as he put it were brutally & senselessly murdered by the Japanese.

  18. Pingback: Telling War Stories | Uphilldowndale

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