What should we remember about the 'Forgotten Army'?

An extract from an article on British veterans commenting on the Burma Campaign

By Courtesy of the BBC.

By Katherine O'Shea
BBC News website, 14th August 2005.

As they prepare to mark the 60th anniversary of the Victory in Japan, three veterans have described their own reasons for remembering the event.

British soldiers in the Far East are often called the "forgotten army".

But their contribution will be honoured in a service at the Imperial War Museum on Monday.

Neville Hogan, John Hamilton and Gordon Graham reveal very different memories of VJ Day.

NEVILLE HOGAN MBE Second Battalion Burma Rifles

Deep in the Burmese jungle, Neville Hogan had no idea that the war was over. He suspects he carried on fighting for several days unnecessarily.

"News just took a while to filter through. We had no radios, and no time to listen to the BBC."

Mr Hogan has never forgotten the contribution of his people, the Karen, an ethnic minority in Burma, who he describes as the "backbone of the army" in the region.

They are now living on the Thai-Burmese border, having been forced out by the government. Mr Hogan, unable to return to Burma under the current regime, lobbies for them in London.

Mr Hogan cannot forgive the Japanese for brutalities that he witnessed in Burma.

"As a soldier, I admire them. As a man, I detest them".

JOHN HAMILTON First Gambia Battalion

In Madras, John Hamilton was with a group of Indian Army engineers, preparing to invade Malaya.

For these men, Victory in Japan was a miraculous reprieve, and celebrations lasted well into the night.

This Monday Hamilton will remember his Battalion of 100,000 African volunteers. He calls them "the forgotten part of the forgotten army".

He feels that the African contribution to the war is not sufficiently appreciated by either Britain or Africa.

"The Africans participated entirely voluntarily, and were fearless and skilful fighters" he said.