‘It’s important to remember’: Royston war veteran on handing over Burma Standard to Duxford Imperial War Museum

Veteran Ben Chapple with son-in-law Ken Nelson.

Veteran Ben Chapple with son-in-law Ken Nelson. - Credit: Archant

A Royston veteran who was stationed in Burma during the Second World War has spoken of the importance of remembering the war effort, after a ceremony marked the handing over of the Standard to Duxford Imperial War Museum.

Burma campaign veterans, including Ben (centre) handed over the Standard to the Imperial War Museum,

Burma campaign veterans, including Ben (centre) handed over the Standard to the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. - Credit: Archant

Veteran Ben Chapple, 92, was one of the members of the Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex Borders Branch of the Burma Star Association who formally handed over the Standard for the Forgotten War display.

The event marks a positive step for the group – about 10 years ago the previous standard was stolen from a car in Duxford.

It was snatched in August, and Ben’s son-in-law Ken Nelson raised money to get it replaced by Remembrance Sunday in November a few months later.

Ken said: “People in Royston have respect for the armed forces. I collected the money in about a week to replace it.

“It’s so important to remember the Burma campaign, as ten years down the line, there won’t be any of the veterans left.

“Why should they be forgotten? We have what we have today because of these people.”

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Ben, who enlisted at 18 and fought for more than three years, was in the 14th army under second division.

He recounts tales of how all the rations were dropped by air, and how he had to put tablets in the water to purify it.

The voice boxes of the mules they had to carry possessions were taken out so they wouldn’t make noise. Originally from Devon, Ben was told to discharge at a depot in Royston, Yorkshire, but in all the excitement ended up in Royston, Hertfordshire because it was a prettier place.

There he met his future wife, Jean Forster at a dance and had a long distance relationship before they got married in 1948.

When he returned to England, Ben worked at an iron foundry in Letchworth, then went to Jones Cranes, before moving on to Finlocks in Orchard Road, Royston. At 65 he worked at Royston Building Supplies and retired at the age of 67.

He is current president of the Herts, Cambs and Essex branch of the Burma Star after serving as welfare officer.