VJ Day remembered in South Holland

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Thoughts will turn to the 1940s and in particular VJ Day in South Holland this weekend.

Ayscoughfee Hall Museum is hosting another 1940s event, with displays of memorabilia, re-enactors, stalls and entertainment.

Jack Mills with his original hat and beer ration card from the 1940s. Photo: SG290715-152TW

Jack Mills with his original hat and beer ration card from the 1940s. Photo: SG290715-152TW

A Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast is due to take place on Saturday.

The light-hearted side of the two-day event comes to a halt on Sunday, when members of the Spalding Remembrance Association line up for the annual VJ Parade in the Peace Garden at Ayscoughfee Gardens – this year commemorating the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan.

Jack Mills of Holbeach is one of the former Forces personnel who hopes to be present at the parade.

The veteran was a member of the Boston and South Lincolnshire branch of the Burma Star Association for around 20 years, acting as public relations officer for the 60th event, as well as speaker finder and treasurer until the branch hung up its standard in Spalding Gentlemen’s Society museum.

Last year's VJ day parade at Ayscoughfee Gardens in Spalding'. Photo: SG170814-116TW

Last year's VJ day parade at Ayscoughfee Gardens in Spalding'. Photo: SG170814-116TW

Jack said: “We had people from Boston and beyond and there would be about 30 members meeting once a month. But a lot had to stop driving, so it was travelling that beat us, but our numbers were dwindling and it got down to about 12 or 15 members and widows.

“Now our members are down to about four. Mark you, the youngest would be about 90 and I am 94.”

Jack spent a year in the Far East helping to keep troops supplied until reinforcements arrived. Supplies had to be flown in on two landing strips in what was a potentially dangerous operation.

His role was administrative, working from mobile headquarters – a large open-sided tent – using lanterns for light and an Imperial typewriter to type out the log sheets on wax stencils that were then run off on a Gestetner machine.

Jack Mills at 19. Photo: SG290715-151TW

Jack Mills at 19. Photo: SG290715-151TW

He remembers: “All the insects flew against the lanterns and dropped on the floor and there was a large amount of insects carrying them away. You had to watch out for scorpions.

“What we got was all second-hand equipment. The Sten guns I don’t think were used on the Continent because they jammed, but they were good enough for us.

“We were told to take no prisoners after they shot up the hospital, but we didn’t know what was happening, we had no idea.

“You knew very well if the Japs got hold of you that was the end. It was life or death, no doubt about it.”

Jack Mills in 2011 at the Remembrance Parade held in Holbeach. Photo: SG290715-150TW

Jack Mills in 2011 at the Remembrance Parade held in Holbeach. Photo: SG290715-150TW

The Japanese Armed Forces captured nearly 140,000 Allied military personnel who were forced to carry out hard labour. By war’s end, more than 30,000 prisoners of war died from starvation and disease.