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08/19/2015 Entry: "VJ-Day 70th Anniversary commemoration"

Rhoda and I are just back from Lichfield where we attended some very moving VJ-Day 70th Anniversary commemoration events. The weekend began with a memorial service in Lichfield Cathedral and an address by Terry Waite, then a dinner at the National Memorial Arboretum. On Sunday we attended a memorial service at the Arboretum followed by a fly-past from a DC-3 Dakota.

We were there especially to remember my Uncle Erno who was a Japanese prisoner of war, captured at the fall of Singapore and sent to Taiwan on one of the atrocious Hell Ships. We met and talked to veteran POWs, and families who had lost loved ones, remembering particularly one wee small boy, proudly wearing his great grandfather’s medals, as he knelt to have his photo taken on an imported section of the infamous Burma railway.

Remembering his grandfather by the Burma railway

These prisoners of war rarely talked about their horrific experiences and, in fact, were ordered not to talk. They became the ‘forgotten army’ and this weekend gave families an opportunity to remember their loved ones and to educate future generations in the hope that these atrocities will never happen again.

The events were organised by COFEPOW (an association for Children and Families of Far East Prisoners of War). COFEPOW has a museum at the Arboretum and members can, by arrangement, search a database for information about individual Far East prisoners of war. The link for this organisation is www.cofepow.org.uk.

This weekend was a very moving occasion for all and many tears were shed as we remembered all those who served in World War II and suffered so much on our behalf.

Tricia Walker with her rather, Nicholas Rhea

To support COFEPOW, I am very proud to tell you that my daughter, Tricia Walker, has published a special charity edition of her book, Benedict's Brother, which tells the moving story of how she came to know of her Great Uncle Erno’s suffering and sacrifice when she visited Thailand. This book is beautifully written and moved me to tears. It can be ordered from Waterstones Do quote ISBN: 9780957217720 or, if you prefer, there is an earlier kindle edition which can be ordered from Amazon.

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