Burma veterans honour fallen comrades

PUBLISHED: 12:25 21 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:51 11 May 2010

BURMA Star veterans at Duxford

BURMA Star veterans at Duxford

VETERANS of a forgotten conflict gathered at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford to remember fallen comrades on Burma Star Day. More than 100 ex-soldiers who fought against the Japanese in Burma during World War II, took part in a march at the museum on Fr

VETERANS of a "forgotten" conflict gathered at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford to remember fallen comrades on Burma Star Day.

More than 100 ex-soldiers who fought against the Japanese in Burma during World War II, took part in a march at the museum on Friday, dressed in full uniform and accompanied by a brass band.

The veterans, who travelled from as far afield as Durham and Devon, were also joined on the march by four mules, to highlight the important role that they played delivering supplies in the Burma campaign.

The march was followed by a moving remembrance ceremony, led by Captain Paddy Vincent, the chairman of the Burma Star Association.

Far East veteran Jimmy Kemp, who lives in Duxford, said: "This day is the highlight of our year.

"During the war we were a forgotten army, fighting on the other side of the world.

"Now generations want to know what we did and how the POWs among us survived to tell their story."

Benjamin Chapple, 84, of Rock Road, Royston, served in Burma from 1943 to 1946.

And of Burma Star Day, he said: "It is an opportunity to remember what happened and it evoked some powerful memories.

"We never talked about it until we started going down to Duxford but there are lots of youngsters interested in what happened in Burma and it is important that I do my bit to tell them about it."

More than 2,000 visitors came to watch the march, applauding the veterans as they passed.

Other highlights of the day included a fly past by some Second World War aircraft and a bagpipe player from the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas.

Visitors also got the opportunity to speak to veterans and learn about their experiences.

Richard Ashton, the director of the Imperial War Museum, said: "We are committed to commemorating the bravery and sacrifice of all those who fought to defend our freedom.

"However, the veterans of the war in the Far East must be singled out for special praise as they fought in the most demanding environments.

"Many of them ended up as captives in the most appalling conditions and their survival can only be described as a triumph of the human spirit."

Burma Star Day falls on August 15 each year, and coincides with VJ Day, the end of the Second World War.

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