Donington veteran carries the flag

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Bryan Robinson knows how to put on an effort when it’s needed, as he puts it.

Bryan did that at the VJ Parade in Spalding, when the 90-year-old – the only member of the old Boston and South Lincs branch of the Burma Star Association present – carried the standard during the ceremony.

veteran Bryan Robinson, 90 Bicker Road, Donington ANL-150824-142059001

veteran Bryan Robinson, 90 Bicker Road, Donington ANL-150824-142059001

He – and countless other men like him – did it in a major way 70 or so years ago when they gave up the comforts of home and hearth for the unknown in far-flung parts of the world during World War Two.

For Bryan, who lives with Marion in Donington, that meant walking away from a job at H Leverton, where he was learning how to drive and maintain a motor car, to join the RAF, aged just 17.

It was a time of transition on his family’s farm at Donington, with tractors replacing horses, and the idea was that Bryan would be at the forefront of the switch to mechanisation.

Instead, he found himself training, first as a flight engineer and then in motor transport with the RAF.

From there he was shipped out to India and then to Burma where he was stationed for just short of a year, driving anything from food to ammunition and servicing aircraft, until the ceasefire.

A posting in Shanghai followed before Bryan could return to the UK, but not before he had spent 12 weeks in hospital suffering with malaria and Typhoid fever.

He returned to the farm, where he worked until he retired about 15 years ago.

During the intervening years he joined the local branch of the Burma Star Association as well as the RAF Association, of which he was both chairman and president. The comradeship he found in both organisations was very important to him.

Bryan still has the picture of the first veterans’ trip – to the Albert Hall to hear Vera Lynn sing.

“Mostly we were really good mates,” he says. “I was lucky because one man, Simeon Creasey, went to school with me and we were in Burma together. He was best man when we married.

“I was disappointed when we had to hang up the standard. There’s not so many of us about. There are three or four from Holbeach still alive and that’s about it.”