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


War veteran’s emotional return to Singapore by Big Lottery Fund
February 5, 2010, 11:39 am
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Jack Fowler served in the Far East during the Second World War before his was captured by the Japanese and taken to a POW camp. This film follows his emotional return to Singapore.



Robert Day returns to the battlefields of Egypt by Big Lottery Fund

Robert Day served in World War 2 in Northern Africa as a tank engineer, getting them back to the front line. This film follows his return to El Alamein, Egypt where he visits the battlefields he fought on, military cemeterys and museums.



Last hurrah for WW2 veterans by Big Lottery Fund

Second World War Royal Navy veterans from across the UK are flying out to Singapore and Malaysia next week (28thJanuary) to pay their respects for the final time to the comrades that lost their lives in the Pacific. The veterans are part of a 127 strong party from the British Pacific and East Indies Fleets Association

It is the final time the veterans, most now in their 80s and 90s, are travelling as a group to pay their respects in Singapore and on the Malaysian island of Penang.

One member of the association making the trip is Mr Victor Gray who lives in Plymouth and first joined the Royal Navy in September 1943 just after his 18th birthday.  Victor, who is now 85, was chosen to be trained as a specialist radio operator, intercepting the enemy radio transmissions and in 1944 travelled to the Far East on the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious via the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Victor explains: “We went to India and became part of the East Indies Fleet.  We then set sail for Palembang and in a battle with the Japanese over two or three days we managed to destroy a third of the Japanese oil supplies. After that we travelled down to Sydney where we joined what then became the British Pacific Fleet. It was so hot, you could fry an egg on the flight deck and I actually saw that done more than once.

To find out more about Victor’s story and the Heroes Return 2 programme visit our programme page

http://www2.biglotteryfund.org.uk/pr_220110_uk_hr_last_hurrah_for_wwii_veterans



Jack Fowler Returns to the Far East with his wife Pearl Fowler by Big Lottery Fund

Pearl Fowler went back to the Far East with her husband who served there during the Second World and was the taken as a Prisoner of War. Pearl has recorded some of the most memorable parts of their trip.

Thursday

Arrived with time to spare despite traffic. In duty free, do I treat myself?

Friday

Arrived in Hong Kong. Lost camera and spectacles, not to worry. Lovely meal in hotel and so to bed as very exhausted

Saturday

Selling poppies at Great Pacific Mall in Central Hong Kong with fellow travellers

Sunday

Remembrance Service in Central Hong Kong. Talking with Captain Alex Butterfield about being released by the Americans. Laying poppy wreaths at cenotaph. Went to Sai Wan Cemetery finding gravestones of several Suffolks, which was very emotional. Visited and left poppy cross at Jack Edwards grave, a very emotional day.

Monday

A day of shopping at Stanley Market. An experience travelling 1 hr by local bus and trying to barter with stall holders. It was very hot and clammy

Tuesday

Had a meal at the revolving restaurant, then onto the peak. Wonderful views, an exceptional day

Wed

Short flight and long car journey to reach hotel, settled in and got an early night as busy day tomorrow.

Thursday

Visit the campsite of the copper mine Kinkasekid and the mining museum which has now become a tourist destination. Followed by visit to Keelung Harbour where all the prisoners landed after their long sea trips on the hell ships. From here they were taken by train so far and then a 10 mile march up a very steep track to the campsite carrying whatever kit they still had in their possession.

Friday

Historical & cultural tour

Saturday

Jungle campsite for memorial service, all the locals were there to greet the P.O.W.’s with a band playing, drums beating and bugles playing. Met 90 yr old farmer who remembered the P.O.W’s time

Sun

Memorial services at Kinhaseki. Laying of wreaths. Last post played by trumpeter Andrew Tsao. Bagpipers played by Mal Turner whilst wreaths were laid. Prayers by Rev Diane Womg. Very emotional time when P.O.W’s paid tributes.