Posts Tagged ‘remembers’

Britain remembers VJ Day 70 years on – live

August 15th, 2015

Veterans are now laying wreaths as they march past the Cenotaph. A veteran standard bearer collapsed and received medical attention from nearby soldiers before being stretchered away from Horseguards Parade.


David Cameron sits alongside Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Horseguards Parade ceremony (IMAGE: PA)

15.10

Recap: Hundreds of veterans gathered on Horse Guards Parade for a Drumhead commemoration to celebrate Victory in Japan, attended by the Prime Minister and Prince of Wales.

Royal Marine buglers and percussionists from Portsmouth piled up their drums to form a ceremonial altar at the centre of the parade, replicating the practise used by troops on the front line.

The Right Reverend Nigel Stock, bishop to HM Armed Forces, led the service and paid particular tribute to those who served in the Far East who played a pivotal role in Japan’s defeat.

Viscount Slim, the son of Field Marshal Slim, read a passage from his father’s memoir Defeat Into Victory.

He read: “To the soldiers of many races who, in the comradeship of the 14th Army, did go on, and to the airmen who flew with them and fought with them and fought over them, belongs the true of achievement.

“It was they who turned defeat into victory.”

15.05

Charles Dance, who earlier read Kipling’s Mandalay, said: “It was rather nerve-wracking, it was like ten first night’s in a row. This is remembering people who don’t pretend. I tell you it’s nerve-wracking. I could see people mouthing the words. Christ, it’s part of history.”

14.55

A Swordfish was unable to join the flypast a of a Hurricane and a Typhoon over central London earlier.

14.50

The average age of those participating in the procession is more than 90, according to the BBC.

14.45

The Lord’s Prayer is followed by Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer.

14.40

Prince Charles has laid a wreath at the drum head, followed by the Prime Minister.

14.35

A minute’s silence across Horse Guards.

14.30

The last post is now being played.

14.25

Drumhead altar being built at the #VJDay70 service

14.10

Charles Dance is reading Kipling’s Mandalay. “On the road to Mandalay, where the flying-fishes play. / An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay.”

14.10

Flypast of an RAF Typhoon and a Hurricane delights the crowds at Horseguards Parade.

13.50

The procession on Horseguards Parade is about to start.

13.15

THE SOLDIER

Dan Chapman, 92, speaks to Patrick Sawer about his experiences fighting the Japanese in Malaya.

Mr Chapman was among thousands of British troops at sea preparing to invade Malaysia when he heard it was all over.

As the men of his 26th Indian Division braced themselves for the bitter fighting that would follow Operation Zipper’s imminent seaborne assault on Port Swettenham, south west of Kuala Lumpur, word spread that Japan had surrendered.

Mr Chapma, said: “This time 70 years ago we were waiting on board ship to land against the Japanese in Malaya. We were about to do the landing when the atom bomb was dropped and Japan surrendered. We were saved from invading at the critical last minute, saving many Japanese and Indian Army lives. I felt somewhat relived, to put it mildly. I think we were all pleased that it was over.”

With the planned invasion averted, the 26th Indian Division was diverted to Indonesia to take the surrender of the Japanese in Sumatra.

“We weren’t sure whether we were going to be met by bullets or surrender, so we were a bit apprehensive,” said Mr Chapman. “But it went off all right and eventually all the Japanese surrendered and were sent back to Japan.”

But Mr Chapman’s war continued for another 12 months, as the 26th Indian Division took part in anti-insurgency operations on behalf of the Dutch colonial government. “My war just carried on,” he said.

Born and bred in Barking, east London, he had joined the British Army in September 1941, just before his 18th birthday, having already experienced the terror of the Blitz and served in the Local Defence Volunteers and Home Guard.

After a year in the Royal Corps of Signals and the Royal Army Service Corps he was transferred to the South Staffordshire Infantry Regiment and posted to Bangalore, where he was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Garhwal Rifles, reaching the rank of Captain.

Mr Chapman, who was awarded the Burma Star and left the Army in 1947, went on to have three children and six grandchildren with Eileen, his wife of 65 years.

Seventy years on the retired bank manager joined other veterans at the Wivenhoe Branch of The Royal British Legion in remembering those who did not survive the war,

“I will mostly be thinking about lost comrades and some of the good times,” he said. “And just being alive.”

13.10

From Tokyo: Japanese Emperor Akihito expressed rare “deep remorse” over his country’s wartime actions in an address Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, a day after the prime minister fell short of apologizing in his own words to the victims of Japanese aggression.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, stayed away from a contentious Yasukuni shrine that honors war criminals among other war dead. He instead prayed and laid flowers at a national cemetery for unnamed fallen soldiers ahead of the annual ceremony at Tokyo’s Budokan hall.

That ceremony started with a moment of silence at noon to mark the radio announcement by Emperor Hirohito, Akihito’s father, of Japan’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945.

12.55

Rare colour footage of VJ Day from the archives.

12.15

Ahead of the VJ Day commemorations, The Telegraph’s Patrick Sawer has spoken to several veterans of Britain’s campaign in the Far East to record their stories.

THE AIRMAN

John Giddings, 92

John Giddings’ war did not end with the Allied victory over Japan on 15 August 1945.

For four long years he had fought in Singapore, Burma and India as British forces confronted the Japanese across south east Asia.

But following the Japanese surrender, Mr Giddings was dispatched to assist the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia, then facing a nationalist insurgency for independence.

Back in 1940, at the start of it all, he had lied in order to do his bit. Aged 17, Mr Giddings headed to his nearest RAF recruitment station, in Gloucester, and told them he was 18 – allowing him to sign up. He said: “ After the Battle of Britain I thought ‘I’ve got to get in there, the Air Force needs me.’”

Following basic training in Skegness the teenager was among the first to put his name down when the call came for volunteers for overseas duty and in December 1941 he was posted to Air Headquarters Singapore.

He was lucky not to be captured before his war had even begun. On its way to Singapore his ship fortuitously broke down and when the rest of the convoy – which had sailed ahead to the British colony – was captured by the Japanese, it managed to make its way to Burma instead.

Here Mr Giddings fought with 17 Squadron, flying a Hawker Hurricane fighter. Overwhelmed by the Japanese in 1942, British forces retreated to India, where Mr Giddings took part in the four-month long defence of Agatala.

But his most dangerous mission was yet to come. In 1944 he signed up for “volunteers for hazardous duty” and found himself pitched into the battle of Kohima, north east India, where the Japanese were attempting to capture a key ridge held by British and Indian troops.

It was the task of Mr Giddings and his fellow volunteers to keep the defenders supplied, something they managed to do until the Japanese retreated on June 22 that year.

He rejoined 17 Squadron, this time flying Spitfires, and took part in the battle of Mandalay, which saw the Japanese overwhelmed by Allied forces – thanks in part to British supremacy in the air.

The battle, which raged from January to March 1945, proved a turning point in the war in the Far East and Mr Giddings and his squadron were subsequently ordered to take part in the recapture of Singapore, which had fallen to the Japanese in ignominious circumstances three years earlier.

By the time the men got to Singapore however, the Americans had dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Shortly after the Japanese surrendered, bringing the war to an end, and Mr Giddings and his comrades were met with no opposition.

With the war over Mr Giddings was given two weeks leave and hitchhiked back to Britain, only to be sent back to the far east to help Dutch forces fight what was ultimately a losing battle against Indonesian independence. It was, the 92-year-old now says, “almost as bad as Burma”.

After leaving the RAF in 1947 Mr Giddings, who joined fellow veterans in Saturday’s VJ parade along Whitehall, worked in engineering and insurance, while also serving as a civilian volunteer in the Royal Observer Corps as part of Britain’s Cold War defences. He went on to become Mayor of Banbury and is now the chairman of the Burma Star Association. In 2003 he was made an MBE for his services to the association.

11.55

The Queen is meeting veterans outside St-Martin-in-the-Fields. She came down from Balmoral castle and was said to be particularly keen to attend today’s proceedings.

She is greeted by an eager crowd as she returns to her motorcade in Trafalgar Square. A flypast and a procession on Horseguards Parade with more than 1,000 VJ Day veterans will follow later. Join us here for both.

11.50

Tom Boardman is reading the Far East Prisoner of War Prayer.

• VJ Day 70th anniversary: Britain remembers, in pictures


World War Two

Tags: , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

Dresden bomber Harry Irons remembers raid 70 years on

February 8th, 2015

Warrant Officer Harry Irons, DFC, joined the RAF in 1940 at the age of 16 as a rear gunner, flying in Lancasters with No. 9 Squadron.

On the night of February 13th 1945, two waves of RAF bombers, followed by the USAAF, dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the German city.

An estimated 25,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the resulting inferno that took place in the final months of the Second World War.

Although the raids had military objectives, the devastation was controversial.

Watch Mr Irons’ account of his experience of the raid, 70 years ago.

Mr Irons recalls his time with the RAF. Photo: Anthony Upton

Photographs and medals belonging to Mr Irons. Photo Anthony Upton

Mr Irons was involved in around 60 bombing raids during the Second World War. Photo: Anthony Upton


World War Two

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

Prince Harry remembers New Zealand’s war dead at Monte Cassino

May 19th, 2014

During the memorial, Maori service personnel from the New Zealand armed forces performed a ceremonial chant, marching together with Prince Harry and other participants.

The battle, one of the bloodiest of World War II, over the ancient monastery was waged for four months. Victory was decided on the May 18, 1944 when Allied bombers reduced Monte Cassino to rubble.

The Allies are thought to have sustained 55,000 casualties during the struggle to push German troops from the crest of the towering hill some 130 km (85 miles) south of Rome.

An estimated 20,000 Germans were killed or wounded in the battle.

Source: RTV


World War Two

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

George ‘Johnny’ Johnson remembers the Dambusters mission, 1943

May 9th, 2014

My crew and I were with the 97 Squadron before we moved over to the new 617 Squadron for a special mission in March 1943. In the front row are me, the bomb aimer; Len Eaton, wireless operator; Joe McCarthy, pilot; Ron Batson, front gunner; and behind us are Dave Rodger, rear gunner; Don MacLean, navigator; and Bill Ratcliffe, flight engineer. Joe was the big man and I thought of him as an older brother. We had a friendship that was beyond that of pilot and bomb aimer, and when we first met we just seemed to gel.

We had no idea what we were training for until the day of the briefing. I was young enough and stupid enough to not think too much about it. The general conjecture had been that it would be against the German battleship Tirpitz, but the next day, May 16 1943, we discovered how wrong we were when we went to the briefing with Wg Cdr Guy Gibson and the inventor of the bouncing bomb, Barnes Wallis. That was the first indication we had of what the target was going to be – three dams within Germany’s Ruhr Valley.

It is difficult to say what the mood was when we found out. At that stage, most people were concerned with their own crew, because the crew were a family, always. But I do know there were one or two who had a nasty feeling they weren’t going to come back.

Gibson was a strict disciplinarian and his big problem was that he could not bring himself down to lower ranks. He had no verbal connection with the air crew except to tell them off when something went wrong. But the true essence of the man as a leader was portrayed in the actual raid, where he made the first attack on the Möhne. We knew it was the only dam that was defended. As he called each aircraft in, he flew alongside them to attract some of the defence. He said, ‘You’re doing this, I’m doing this, we’re doing this together.’ That to me is the essence of good leadership.

The scale of the raid didn’t hit most of us until we saw the outcome and the number of crews we’d lost – we lost eight of our 16 attacking planes that night and only three of the aircrew from the downed Lancasters survived. We lost 53 crew in total. It was pretty devastating.

I’ve talked to school children about the raid and I can see the interest in their eyes. That makes it for me. It’s a relief to know that they’re teaching Second World War history in junior schools. There’s been an increase in the interest over the last three or four years, and I enjoy it.

The Last British Dambuster by George ‘Johnny’ Johnson (Ebury Press, £17.99) is out now


World War Two

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

Archives

Categories