Barnstaple Burma Star Veterans commemorate VJ Day

Saturday 14th August saw three of the remaining North Devon Burma Star Veterans meet in Rock Park to mark the anniversary of VJ Day.

VJ Day marks the end of the Second World War when Japan surrendered and the annual memorial service has been organised by Ken Hartnoll of Barnstaple Royal British Legion along with the Burma Star Association.

Mr George Rice aged 98 from Combe Martin, Victor Mock also in his late 90’s and Mr Gordon Short aged 100 met with Mr Hartnoll, Mayor Alan Rennles his wife Sue Rennles to mark the 76th anniversary of this event.

Mr Short finished the war as a Captain in the Army and Mr Rice served with the Royal Air Force on secondment to the Indian Air Force where . To celebrate his 100 years, Gordon is currently fundraising for the Devon Air Ambulance by challenging members from 20 different bowls clubs across Devon to play 5 ends of bowls with him. A fundraising link will be made available.

Mr Victor Mock told of a story when on the way out of Burma when his boat was sunk he and four comrades rescued they were issued with one razor between them, a mug and a flannel each. After two weeks and they were picked up to continue their journey and all their equipment was replenished the time came to draw straws for the one razor they’d been sharing, Victor won.

98 year old Mr Mock said: “We had to await transport for our onwards journey, and they didn’t have much to give us. However, after two weeks I won the toss and got to keep the razor, I still use it every day now.

“My biggest grievance was losing my lovely leather wallet which was a 21st Birthday present which went when the ship sank. I had only had it for a few weeks. Although I did return from the war with a Japanese wallet which I also have to this day. It is a bit like me these days though, and is definitely falling apart.”

Mr Rice, who’s father was in the RAF had visited India with his father’s posting in 1933-1936.

Mr Rice said: “When I was posted there myself I didn’t go straight to Burma I went first to India to the same station where we were as a family so I knew it all, it was all familiar to me.”

Mayor Alan Rennles said: “It is so important that what these men did for us in the Second World War is remembered – we salute them and all of the men they fought alongside who weren’t so lucky and lost their lives at the time.

“It must never be forgotten the sacrifice that so many made and we have a duty to each and every subsequent generation to inform them of the horrors that happened and how our lives are now free as a result of their service.”

Mr Ken Hartnoll said: “Every year we are grateful to have the pleasure of these veterans’ company at this memorial service and the opportunity to thank them personally for everything they did for Queen and country.”

Pictured – left to right are Mr Gilbody, Mr Victory Mock, Mr George Rice, Mr Gordon Short & Mr Brian Cawte

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