Two minute silence held in Sudbury to mark 75th anniversary of VJ Day
PUBLISHED: 14:31 18 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:32 18 August 2020
A two-minute silence fell over a Sudbury park to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day and the end of World War Two.
Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day) marks the day Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, three months after VE Day, and is commonly known as the Forgotten War.
Two veteran Gurkhas attended the ceremony in Barham Park on August 15, along with the families of Gurkhas who fought the war in Burma and dignitaries including the mayor of Brent Cllr Ernest Ezeajughi and Brent North MP Barry Gardiner.
Dilli Sunuwar, British Gurkha Nepalese Association’s (BGNA) vice chairman of the Queen’s Own Ghurka’s Logistics Regiment, and Santa Bahadur Gurung, of Queen’s Own Ghurka’s Rifles, laid a wreath for the Royal British Legion (RBL), the BGNA and Gurkhas - representing the 60,000 Gurkhas who fought in the Burma Campaign and throughout the Far East.
Benita Rai Lee’s grandfather, Brindamam Rai, was one of those men. He fought with the 3rd Essem Rifle Regiment.
“My mother told me that the officer who was leading the regiment was killed so my grandfather had to lead the team,” Benita said.
“One night in his bunker he had a dream of somebody with a shaved head. If the Japanese captured them they would cut their throats so the next morning they all shaved their hair off. The Japanese came the same night and couldn’t see their heads.”
She added: “After the war when my grandfather came back his wounds were nearly rotten. It took a long time to heal.”
Mei Sim Lei, Queen’s representative for Brent and president of the Wembley & Sudbury RBL (WSRBL), thanked everyone for attending the ceremony during “extraordinary times caused by Covid-19”.
She said: “Today we remember and recognise the sacrifices of so many in the East that ultimately brought about the end of the Second World War. Today is a poignant day of remembrance for the Gurkhas who played such a significant role in the war.
“An incredible nine Victory Crosses were awarded to Gurkha Regiments with seven going to Nepali soldiers.
We owe a debt of honour to the Gurkhas, universally known as ‘the bravest of the brave.’”
You may also want to watch:
Geraldine Cooke, vice chair of WSRBL, said her uncle ‘Jim’ Bone was a British Army officer who took Nigerian troops of the King’s West African Rifles “to the subcontinent to meet up with the Indian Army, and with the British Army and the 60,000 men of Gurkha Rifle Brigades who fought through the Burma Campaign with The Chindits in the so-called ‘Forgotten Army’.”
Of her now deceased friend Loot Velmans, she said: “He was a young Dutch fighter with the Free Dutch who fought as Allies in the jungle war, was captured and was on the Burma Railway, and later imprisoned in the notorious Changi jail, Singapore. An incredible man.”
Although she was not at the ceremony, Connie Revell, who lives in Roe Green, wrote a tribute to her father for VJ Day.
He was 30 years old when he was sent to the Far East.
“The 14th Army was forgotten at the time and, it seems, is still forgotten,” said Connie.
“My dad Alfred Chambers was part of that army, not only forgotten, but mostly invisible.
“He belonged to Force 136, SOE (Special Operation Executive) in the Far East. Until the last few years nothing was known of them; like the rest of the SOE, they had all signed the Official Secrets Act, and have never breathed a word.”
She said the SOE role was to work behind enemy lines on intelligence, search and destroy missions with a radio operator who reported back to headquarters daily.
The missions “could last for weeks, with supplies dropped in by C47 aircraft”.
“Those operating with SOE were issued with cyanide pills, for use to avoid capture or under duress by the Japanese,” she added.
“Dad only ever told us once about his time in the jungle. He said that they were up on a hill, surrounded by Japanese (soldiers) searching frantically for them, and he had said to his sergeant, ‘I think we’ve had it this time, Sarge.’ It didn’t look good.
“And his sergeant had replied, ‘No, we’ll be okay. They know exactly where we are. They’re on their way!’
“They were picked up and lived to fight another day. Their radio operator had done a perfect job. We didn’t know he had been on a special mission. We just thought he’d had a lucky escape.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Brent & Kilburn Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.