Forgotten Voices of Burma: A New History of the Second World War's Forgotten Conflict in the Words of Those Who Were There Hardcover – 15 Oct 2009
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An oral history taken from Imperial War Museum's Sound Archive. This title features soldiers from both sides tell their stories of this epic conflict.
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My father was RSM in the Durham Light Infantry. He rarely spoke of his experiences in Burma. All I knew as a child was that he had served in Africa - I found an old photo album with him bathing in half an oil drum, on the back he had written ' foothills of Kilimanjaro'.
Others were of cheetah, elephants & other wildlife, some with other soldiers in the same landscape. He was in a few of them & was quite happy to tell me about the wonderful local people. He spoke Swahili fluently
Burma was totally different. He had his medals in a tin at the back of a drawer & when nosy child asked about Burma Star, he remarked it was along time ago. End of conversation!.
Over the years I picked up a few snippets, Dad washed his feet when he came in from work & put powder on them - every nook & cranny had to be powdered. Summertime was more frequent! He had the smelliest feet ever, sometimes he had to go to the doctors as they were sore. He did say it was ' Foot Rot' due to his feet being constantly wet in the jungle in Burma.
As I got a bit older, I noticed a scar on his shin - he said it was from a mosquito bite - I think I said it must have a really big mozzy! I now know it was a scar from a bullet wound.
In my mid teens my dad had a really bad attack of malaria, which was frightening to both my mother & myself. He was never I'll, my mother told me what it was, he had more frequent attacks after he came home in 1947. He had had very few attacks in recent years.
Occasionally he met an army pal called 'Jock Sword' - Dad was from Durham so I don't know his unaccented surname was! He was always very quiet after they met up for a drink. I do know they were in Burma together.
He had a deep affection for Vera Lynn & always watched if she was on television, quiet often his eyes would 'water' when she sang. I asked him why he liked her so much, he told me she had visited the troops in Burma & had really cheered the lads up, when everyone else had forgotten them. He always called her ' Our Vera'. So the title of this book caught my interest.
Dad died in 1979 from lung cancer - curse of the Woodbine! When my mother passed away in 1996, I found the tin box with the medals & ribbons inside, also there was his pay book, a reference from his CO & other papers. There was also a very large card envelope, which was a total surprise as it contained a leaving card with numerous signatures & lovely messages from both officers & men. It was signed in Nurenburg 1947. Did try to get more info, but was told it was classified.
This book shed light on what it was like in Burma for my father & so many others. They were the ' Forgotten Army'