North Devon’s remaining few Burma Star veterans have attended a moving VJ Day remembrance service to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
They gathered at the war memorial in Rock Park in Barnstaple this morning (Saturday, August 15) to mark the same day 75 years ago when Japan surrendered and the war was finally over.
With numbers of survivors of the war in the Far East sadly now very few, it is not known how much longer the traditional VJ Day act of remembrance organised by Barnstaple Royal British Legion will continue.
In attendance were North Devon veterans Gordon Short from Burrington, who turns 100 next month, as well as George Rice from Combe Martin, aged 97 and Victor Mock.
The mayor of Barnstaple, Councillor Alan Rennles, was also present, and the service was led by the Reverend David Fletcher.
A lone piper and a bugler added to the solemnity of a special but intimate act of remembrance.
Barnstaple RBL president Ken Hartnoll said: “This 75th year service is more important than any of them.
“It marks the end of World War Two. Although we finished in Europe in May, our lads were still fighting out in the Far East.”
Mr Rice served with the Royal Air Force on secondment to the Indian Air Force, while Mr Short finished as a captain with the army.
Mr Rice joined up when he was just 15-years-old, before the war, and rose through the ranks.
During his time with the IAF he served in West Burma and the North West Frontier region and is keen for people to remember the ‘forgotten army’ as the Far East troops were sometimes known.
Mr Short rose from acting lance corporal in the quartermaster’s office of the Devonshire Regiment to captain.
He served in Burma on secondment to the Royal West Kents and joined the regiment in the country the night before the battle of Kohima.
He fought for weeks in what became known as the ‘Battle of the DC’s Tennis Court’, with heavy shelling and fierce hand-to-hand fighting in the garden of the deputy commissioners’ bungalow, hence the name.