Heroes Return Blog – Stories from Second World War veterans’ trips


A hero’s return to Penang by Big Lottery Fund

Bob Simmons, 86, recently travelled to Malaysia to pay his respects to comrades lost during the liberation of Penang in the Second World War. His journey was funded by the Heroes Return programme.

Bob pictured with his wife Sheryl during their commemorative trip

Bob pictured with his wife Sheryl during their commemorative trip

In Burma he served in Chittagong, Ramree Island and Rangoon. As part of the liberation of Penang he set up a radar beacon at Bayan Lepas airport, helping the planes which were evacuating POWs back to the UK.

He spent Christmas in Singapore and was sent to Borneo in 1946 for two years before being demobbed. One of his lasting memories from his service is the haunting sight of Allied POWs, who had been freed from the notorious Changi jail in Singapore. For more about his war experiences, read Bob’s earlier blog entry.

The Remembrance Day commemoration ceremony in Malaysia on Sunday 18 November was organised by the Penang Veterans Association in Georgetown, the capital of Penang.

Bob sat next to the First Secretary to the Singapore Embassy and was also in the company of the Chief Minister of Penang, the British High Commissioner and the Chief Defence Adviser.

Bob got a special mention in the President’s address and also a whole page of his story in the souvenir programme. After the reading of The Ode, The Last Post performed by the 2nd Royal Malay Regiment, the one minute silence and Reveille, Bob laid a wreath on the steps of the Penang Cenotaph in memory of all WW2 veterans.

Bob was also very thrilled to have a chat with Royal Australian Air Force Air Vice Marshal Warren Ludwig who is based at Butterworth, one of Bob’s old postings.

Accompanying Bob on his commemorative trip was his wife Sheryl. She said: “Bob made the local press with articles in The Star newspaper and The New Straits Times, where he is shown laying his wreath, so he became quite famous locally! It was a really exciting time for us both and we are very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund’s Heroes Return programme for making it all possible.”

For more information about Heroes Return, call the advice line on 0845 00 00 121 or visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/heroesreturn


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