Gosberton Risegate veteran in VJ Parade

Eddie Peak and mementoes from his years as a prisoner of war. Photo: SG050412-226NG
Eddie Peak and mementoes from his years as a prisoner of war. Photo: SG050412-226NG
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Each year of Eddie Peak’s life offers a brand new reason to celebrate being alive.

This year, it’s the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan and the end of World War Two.

While Britain was celebrating with street parties to mark VE Day in May 1945, thousands of miles away people – like Eddie – were either imprisoned or were still fighting.

Eddie was a prisoner of the notorious Changi Camp in northern Singapore and then in camps in Thailand.

It was not until August 15, 1945, that the enemy finally surrendered.

This year, Eddie (94), of Gosberton Risegate, plans to go the one of the commemorative events planned for the important anniversary, the VJ Parade in London.

Eddie, a member of The Java Far Eastern Prisoner of War Club, will be provided with a wheelchair for the occasion by the Royal British Legion.

This year also marks Eddie’s 21st year of working for Moulton Bulb Company. He is still working two days a week and says: “I want to work because it’s two days of meeting people.”

That he is alive at all though is remarkable, because Eddie came home from war weighing under six stone and had long spells in hospital for operations to his lung.

That culminated in major surgery to insert 22 small plastic balls to prevent the chest wall from collapsing after surgeons removed two-thirds of his lung.

He has lived with the plastic balls in his chest ever since, but doesn’t let it hold him back.

He has also lived with the horrific memories of that time, of brutality and of toiling to build a railway of about 260 miles while being fed a few spoonfuls of rice three times a day, plus whatever they could scrounge.

Then there were the memories of daily burials, ten to 15 a day, as men succumbed to diseases such as cholera in the overcrowded conditions.

Eddie has been asked to write about his war-time experiences for the Royal British Legion journal.

He says: “I can’t hold any animosity against the Japanese because most weren’t born when I was there, but there is still that little bit of resentment in me. I was lucky really because I missed D-Day.”