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75th Anniversary of VJ Day

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75th Anniversary of VJ Day

Old 14th Aug 2020, 09:51
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75th Anniversary of VJ Day

Tomorrow, 15 August 2020, is the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day.

I remember well VE Day in 1945 when my father was still a POW in Singapore. It was not until 15 August 1945 that we felt able to celebrate, and not until late October that he came home.

I hope everyone will remember, not only The Forgotten Army, but all those soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians who suffered so terribly. Tomorrow, I shall stand in silent remembrance. I hope others will do so too.
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Old 14th Aug 2020, 10:44
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Very glad your father came home, B1. Quite a moving story. I shall breathe a deep breath.

A Portuguese lady nurse I knew in London told me she had been to the gates of Changi Prison to say goodbye as all the remaining Westerners were being rounded up and herded inside, and despite loud protests from her about 'neutrality' etc., the guards grabbed here and pushed her inside too, where she spent the rest of the war.
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Old 14th Aug 2020, 12:11
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A number of my father's fellow pilots from HMS Indefatigable were shot down and captured during the closing weeks of the war in the Far East. When their Japanese guards heard of the surrender, they marched them out onto the beach, made to dig their own graves and cut down.

He was not a fan of the sons of Nipon.

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Old 14th Aug 2020, 12:24
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Mog - I was intending to post something on the (assumed) 75th anniversary of the Palembang murders. There are various versions of what happened and when but this is what is recounted on the FAAOA website. I hadn't heard of the same happening to Indefatigable aircrew.

Palembang Nine

The 'Palembang Nine' was a group of nine men from the Royal Navy British Pacific Fleet. The men were either pilots or crew members of HMS Victorious, HMS Illustrious or HMS Indomitable.

Claims emerged from surviving war veterans that a number of airmen survived the raid on the Palembang oil refineries and were held captive by the Japanese before being executed. The number of men is generally held to be by nine but research by the NZ FAA museum has cast doubt on this figure indicating it may be twelve.

The names of the 'Palembang Nine' on the plaque in the FAA museum are

Lt. John Haberfield (below)- Pilot from 1839 Fighter Squadron (HMS Indomitable)
Lt. Evan John Baxter - Pilot from 1833 Fighter Squadron (HMS Illustrious)
S/Lt. Reginald James Shaw - Pilot from 1833 Fighter Squadron (HMS Illustrious)
Lt. Kenneth Morgan Burrenston - Crew from 849 TBR Squadron (HMS Victorious)
S/Lt. John Robert Burns - Crew from 849 TBR Squadron (HMS Victorious)
S/Lt. Donald V Roebuck - Crew from 849 TBR Squadron (HMS Victorious)
S/Lt. William Edwin Lintern - Crew from 849 TBR Squadron (HMS Victorious)
Petty Officer Ivor Barker - Crew from 849 TBR Squadron (HMS Victorious)
Petty Officer J S McRae - Crew from 849 TBR Squadron (HMS Victorious)

The first two named were RNZNVR officers.
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Old 14th Aug 2020, 12:50
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I am aware of at least one frequent poster whose father didn’t come back. My own father did, his war service ranged across seas from Northern Russia to New South Wales. As ex-Navy he always seemed embarrassed by his Burma Star, as if he felt he was not worthy to wear the same medal given to those who endured so much on and over the land. I do worry that those who served “out East” always come a distant second as far a commemoration. I too will be standing in silent remembrance.

On a lighter note:

A Lancaster flypast of the RAFM, Hendon (or London if they insist) is scheduled for Saturday 15 August at 11:30am.

Anyone know if currently extant (flying) squadrons plan to commemorate VJ day in the air?

I did a bit of digging when bored and AFAIK the active squadrons (not all flying squadrons obviously) with relevant service are:

RAF Squadrons

5, 8, 11, 17, 22, 24, 27,28, 45, 47, 54, 60, 84, 99, 100, 202, 230, and 605

RN Air Squadrons

814, 815, 820, 824, 845, and 847

The future Lightning squadron 809 and the no longer to be reformed 849 both had relevant service. It is particularly poignant that 849 RNAS have not reformed given how many of the Palembang nine were members.

AAC (as RAF) Squadrons

656, 668, 669, 670, 671, 672, 673, 681 and 684

An aside to our US and other relevant fellow members, I am aware that the date of VJ day is 2 September in the US and 3 September in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Philippines, and Taiwan.
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Old 14th Aug 2020, 13:06
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I had two Uncles who were sunbathing in Singapore before embarking on a new career building railways. Another, after a stroll along the dunes at Dunkerque, subsequently went to warmer climes in Burma. I'm pleased to say I've inherited his sardonic DNA.

My late father was working for Weir Pumps in the 70's in Manchester when it was announced that a Japanese delegation would be visiting one day. The management, being well aware many had been involved, indicated if anybody wished to have a day off, that would be fine . The delegation duly arrived , the temperature seemingly dropped off the Kelvin scale as they were greeted with some "heartfelt sentiments " to the extent the tour of the factory was rapidly terminated.

However, as we know, narcissists and "walts" are only too common and walk amongst us. Enter a security guard at said factory who was always in the local rag, with medals, telling the world of his time in Burma...until, one day, a new arrival who had also been in Burma asked some questions, then some more questions and lo and behold, it turned out said walt had been in Burma, only not at the time or locations when the fighting was going on and had never actually been anywhere near the front line. He "left" shortly afterwards, and, strangely, never graced the local rags pages again.
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Old 14th Aug 2020, 13:25
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Mog - I've now found at least one

Sub-Lieutenant Frederick (Fred) Hockley RNVR (born 1923) was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm fighter pilot who was shot down over Japan while taking part in the last combat mission flown by British aircraft in the Second World War.Nine hours after Emperor Hirohito announced the unconditional surrender of Japan, on 15 August 1945, Hockley was secretly executed by soldiers from the Imperial Japanese Army. The two officers who instigated the killing were convicted of war crimes and hanged in Hong Kong in 1947.

He was a Seafire pilot of 894 NAS on board HMS Indefatigable.
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Old 14th Aug 2020, 16:17
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Yes, Mog senior was on 894, so that ties in. He also took part in the Palembang raids - hence, I guess, his connection with the "Palembang 9".

I think that I might have seen Fred Hockley's name in my father's album.

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Old 14th Aug 2020, 17:06
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My father was on the Mata Hari. You can read on the Muntok Peace Museum website what happened to all those little ships trying to leave Singapore on the night of 12 February 1942.

Last edited by Bergerie1; 14th Aug 2020 at 19:03.
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Old 14th Aug 2020, 17:14
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My mum was a very young girl at the time and was in Changi prisoner-of-war camp with her family. Does anyone know what has happened to Sheila Bruhn / Sheila Allan who wrote "Diary of a girl in Changi"? Mum stopped getting Christmas cards from her 2 Decembers back; she was living in Australia near Sydney (and mum is in the UK). Mum is now one of a very few survivors of Changi who is still alive, although nobody has contacted her about joining in any celebrations.
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Old 14th Aug 2020, 22:28
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Jolihocistix: your reference to a Portuguese lady at Changi reminded me of my late mother-in-law who was of British nationality but of Portuguese ancestry (de Sousa) and whose British Army husband was captured at the fall of Singapore. He survived captivity in Singapore/Malaya but was put on the prison-ship Rakuyo Maru bound for Japan, and which was torpedoed on 12 September 1944 by the USS Sealion. He was one of the thousands of “Hell-ship” casualties.
My late wife was born in October 1941 and evacuated to Australia safely before the fall of Singapore with her mother, so she never knew her father. Mother-in-law did not have a high opinion of the Japanese, and I nearly caused World War 3 once when I said I fancied buying a Mazda sometime in the 70s.
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Old 14th Aug 2020, 23:38
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My father was an Observer in 1772 squadron FAA, embarked on Indefatigable, flying in Fireflies (Dad was the only "RN" officer in the squadron, all the others were RNVR / War Service officers).
His log book records attacks on Tokushima, Takamatsu, Shikoku, Nagoya Bay, Matsushima, Korigama & Taina [names are Dad's spelling, may not be correct!] in July & August 1945.
On 24th July 1945 "Maurice & Don ditched. Don later picked up (2 days)". On 28th July Dad was "grounded with a bad cold", but his regular pilot LT. Stevens is "missing over target with Mike" [presumably another Observer]. On 10th August "Much flak. Roberts & McBride bought it. Darby & O'Neill bailed out"
RIP "Maurice", "Steve", "Mike", "Roberts" and "McBride" - at least five fatalities out of presumably twelve 2-man crews in the Squadron. 20% casualties in two months combat flying seems horrifyingly many from today's perspective.

With a little luck, and Covid-19 permitting, I will be attending Dad's 100th Birthday in Sydney in December.
He is the last survivor of BRNC Dartmouth Benbow Term, starting in 1934 and graduating in 1938
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Old 15th Aug 2020, 00:01
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According to numerous reports from the time, the Japanese were planning to execute nearly all the POWs if/when the invasion of Japan started. Dropping the bomb and the resultant sudden surrender stopped that.
Good article on one of the more notorious camps:

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Old 15th Aug 2020, 01:10
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Your mother must have been evacuated on the same ship as me, the SS Nellore, from Singapore arriving in Fremantle WA on 8 January 1942.
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Old 15th Aug 2020, 02:33
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"The two officers who instigated the killing were convicted of war crimes and hanged in Hong Kong in 1947."


Another way of conducting a Jap Surrender ...

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Old 15th Aug 2020, 03:19
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This is what fascinates me about the Second World War above all, the shear scale of the engagement, breadth and depth. Just looking at what is just an indication of a small yet, by modern comparison, extensive number of operational squadrons posted earlier in the thread. The other characterizing aspect, the adherence to formality, not just of the Japanese in surrendering, but the Germans also just three months earlier. Then again, the shear destruction brought to bear not surprisingly left many believing they were witnessing the end of civilization. Doubtless people in the UK the USA, Antipodes and the liberated countries wouldn't see things that way but the people of the two principal axis nations must have believed they were witnessing the apocalypse, and I believe more so for the Germans.

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Old 15th Aug 2020, 07:55
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The war in the Far East marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire far more so than the war in Europe. Yet the irony is that it was those from the Colonies and Dominions as well as from the home country that stopped the Japanese advance on the very border of India, and fought the Japanese Army back from whence it came. All this time my father, a Bombardier in a TA RA LAA battery, spent incarcerated as a POW having been captured in the chaos following the Fall of Singapore. After the long voyage out from the UK their ship was turned away from Singapore and they disembarked instead in the Dutch East Indies where they were very soon overrun and captured, managing at least to spike their Bofors guns beforehand.

Their captivity ended up in Japan where they were set to mining coal. I knew that the camp was administered by an HQ in Fukuoka on the Japanese island of Kyushu. It took the kindly and knowledgeable guidance of a fellow PPRuNer resident in Japan to discover that the camp was not on Kyushu at all, but on the neighbouring island of Honshu. He has located both the camp and the mine for me from the mass of Japanese records that are accessible online (providing you can understand the Japanese language of course). This highlights to me not only the power of the internet but in particular the comradeship of PPRuNe, of which I have been the most fortunate recipient. Following on advice from other PPRuNers I had already obtained his medals which I wear with pride every year on Remembrance Day

At war's end the camp administration came under Hiroshima anyway. The IJA was as beset by bureaucracy as any other army it seems. Sadly my father didn't make it, dying just four months before Japan's surrender. Other than a few local press cuttings pasted into a scrapbook by my grandfather I had little to go on, other than the location of his grave in the CWGC cemetery at Yokohama, which I and my family have visited. It is of course as meticulously maintained as one would expect.

I too will stand today in memory of him, of his comrades, and of all who fell in the 'Forgotten War'.
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Old 15th Aug 2020, 09:30
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I trust colleagues will not think it inappropriate fo me to mention our sadly-departed Danny42C, who contributed in his small and self-deprecating way to the eventual victory. He's the only personal contact I have ever had with someone who served in that awful war theatre, fighting an enemy whose human principles were so different to ours.

"Bless them all ... " and especially you, Danny, if your celestial laptop is still functioning and you can read this.
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Old 15th Aug 2020, 10:36
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My father, who had gone on from Bomber Command Halifaxes in Yorkshire to DC3s in Burma in the last couple of years, was involved in the initial repatriation of the POWs to the UK. They were all appalled. I understand the POWs were mainly airlifted home.

His Burma Star somehow disappeared in the family many years ago. Seeing one on the TV this morning recollected it. Is there any central record of them by which I could get just an image. Were they serial numbered ?

Anyone know the route of the Red Arrows here in London this afternoon ? Alas, it's not CAVOK for the first time in weeks, overcast 700ft.
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Old 15th Aug 2020, 10:51
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Surrendered Japanese Fleet in Stores Basin, Singapore. Sorry, no more details except that my father took them before returning home.

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