It’s never really over for fighters

VJ Day service
VJ Day service
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WARD’S WORLD: By madcap inventor John Ward

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in the Far East or VJ Day as its now called. I mention this for a couple of reasons in that my dad fought in Burma as did my late friend Eric.

I met Eric some years ago as we appeared at assorted venues and events with me doing my thing and Eric being what is termed as a ‘spesh’ act (as called in the show biz world but would be called a specialty act in the public domain) in that he did assorted acts in his repertoire such as close up magic, ‘legal’ pickpocket and a fire eater. It was wonderful to see him doing his close-up table top magic act and afterwards present those who were onlookers or volunteers with perhaps their braces, belts, watches or necklaces as they left the scene.

He gave up the fire eating act in the mid 1990’s but on being asked why he no longer did it, he replied with a straight face that since he used 4 star petrol he gave the act up when he found out he couldn’t get converted to use unleaded petrol.

I last saw him professionally when we were both booked to strut our stuff at the motor show at the NEC in Birmingham with me on the Ford stand and he was on a well known car accessory stand doing his close up magic act to great response.

We had lunch together with his wife Connie and during the usual chit-chat I asked if he was doing his stuff on perhaps a car maker from the Far East as they seemed to like anything ‘out the norm’ to which he went stony faced and excused himself and left the table and it was then that Connie pointed out that since the war, the last real world war, he would never speak about or have any Japanese products such as a TV or radio in their house due to what he went through as a prisoner of war and the way he and he fellow comrades were treated and though my dad was not captured but was sent home after being severely wounded, he too was not overawed with buying their products.

Connie explained that while the war itself finished in 1945 Eric was still fighting on with the nightmares that did not end as he would often wake up upset and screaming as, despite having medals and suchlike to show for his taking part, he was still ‘fighting on’ whether he liked it or not. She related the incident when some placard wavers brushed past them in a sort of ‘peace rally’ about the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan and he stood and quietly pointed out that those taking apart were either not born then or had no idea of what it was it really all about and he summed up the situation in two words who and what started it – Pearl Harbour.

Sadly Eric passed away a few years ago with Connie shortly after but I am not sure as to Eric’s and dad’s reactions to not being present for this 70th anniversary together with the last few survivors as it did not all end in 1945 for some of them as, with all wars, there are no real winners.