Plea for “Forgotten War” tribute

Campbell Thomson, Lanarkshire Yeomanry historian with Tom Hannah (92), member of Lanarkshire Yeomanry in his home in Blackwood'15/3/12
Campbell Thomson, Lanarkshire Yeomanry historian with Tom Hannah (92), member of Lanarkshire Yeomanry in his home in Blackwood'15/3/12

A leading light in the Lanarkshire Yeomanry Memorial Group has made an impassioned plea for a fitting national tribute to the men who served in the Far East during the Second World War.

Campbell Thomson shared last week’s VE commemoration with some of the few surviving local veterans of the 156th (Lanarkshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery – who fought in the Italian campaign and in northern Europe.

But in a letter to a Scottish daily newspaper he says he’s concerned that some may still assume VE Day (May 8, 1945) marked the end of the war.

He said: “I really hope that the same commemoration will be made to those who continued to fight in the Far East long after VE Day” – men who included, for example, Blackwood veteran Tom Hannah, who was forced to work on the notorious Burma Railroad as a prisoner of war.

It has been estimated that one prisoner died for every sleeper laid for the 450-kilometre track through the jungle.

Mr Thomson said: “There were countless families in Britain who worried and feared for relatives who were still fighting, and dying, in Burma and elsewhere in the Far East.

“For them the celebrations of VE Day were bitter sweet, and for the4 families of the 155th (Lanarkshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment – the sister regiment to the4 156th – there was perhaps an even greater fear: what was happening to their loved ones who were prisoners of the Japanese?”

He added: “Today we kinow what that hell actually was, and I seriously hope that on August 14, the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, and the real end of the war, a grateful nation will similarly remember their sacrifice.”