August 15 2010 marks the 65th anniversary of VJ Day, the day that Japan surrendered, the official end to the Second World War. My Grandad was serving in Burma – now 92 his memories of that time are as vivid today as they were the first time round. My Grandad often says that he went to war as a boy and came back a changed man. He was, and is, a quietly reflective person; he’d admit himself that he’s a worrier, a sensible type; he’ll also readily acknowledge that he has only lasted this long with the support of my Gran, a solid tower of strength for him during and after the war. I can not begin to imagine what he must have been through, what he saw, what he had to live with. I know that my Gran discourages him from discussing the war nowadays as she feels it leads to him having nightmares – I often wonder whether him not talking just means he sits having daymares (if such a thing exists).
Anyhow, my Grandad was an active member of the local branch of the Burma Star Association and went to the annual memorial every year until this year. This year he stayed home. He has reached a considerable age and lost many of his friends, not only during the war but since and he wasn’t wanting to put my mum out this year – she accompanies him as my Gran “isn’t much into all the old war boys talk”. I can’t help but think that a little slice of history is dying away with these veterans. I often berate myself for not paying more attention when my Grandad regaled his war stories to us as children – the only one I can remember in any great detail was the one my Gran always told him off for telling us…it was an account of the fact that there was one jungle plant that if you pee’d on it would close up, my Gran never approved of that story but as kids we loved it 😉 I suspect that when my grandparents die we will find a treasure trove of memories – I know my Grandad has spent hours collecting clippings from the paper that detailed what they got up to, and I know he has letters he sent my Gran during the war and correspondence between him and his fellow soldiers sent for years afterwards – I’d like to think that I’ll take the time to document it in some way, but for now this blog post is a start.
Burma Star medal picture from wikimedia