In October 1944, I was conscripted to the Royal Marines 42 Commando. A posting which would see me travel across the world in service to the nation.
After 12 weeks training, we were sent to the Far East as quickly as our landing craft could go. I can’t remember how long it took but it was a lengthy journey, with our apprehension building every day.
I vividly remember landing in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. We were then moved around to keep the peace, spending time in Singapore, Saigon and Bangkok.
I remember witnessing the Japanese surrender of Singapore. After this momentous day our job wasn’t done. Although the war had officially ended there was still plenty to do. We were tasked with going to Bangkok to help with peace keeping operations and clearing any remaining Japanese from the buildings.
I witnessed the horrors and human tragedy of the Japanese POW camps. We helped liberate two camps of Dutch and Australian prisoners. It was tragic, they were skeletal, malnourished and mistreated. When we were able to release them there was no elatedness or joy – just confusion.
It was while in Bangkok, I was struck by a sniper. I don’t remember much but I do remember the pain – like whiplash through my body, I quickly fell unconscious. I woke up in an Army tent where I got three days of rest before being transferred back to base and put on restricted duties.
I loved my time in the Royal Marines, it really made a man of you. But I missed home and my mother, who was a widow. Eventually in 1947 I was demobbed. After leaving the Marines, I joined the Parachute Regiment and served for a further two years.
In 2017, over 70 Years later, I finally received my medals for my service.
This Remembrance I invite you to honour a loved one or someone who has served our great country.
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