96 year old Ron plans to lay a wreath
96 year old Ron plans to lay a wreath in memory of his fallen comrades of 44 RM Commando at the cenotaph in Ayr.
Ron has been resident in Ayr for nearly 20 years. In May 1940 when the threat of Nazi invasion was at its height, he joined the LDV (subsequently to become the Home Guard) aged 16 years.
At 18 he joined the Royal Marines and in 1942 volunteered for Commando training. During 1943 he and the rest of 44 Commando were hard training for the impending invasion of France when Lord Louis Mountbatten was made Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command. He specifically requested 3 Commando Brigade (of which Ron and the rest of 44 Commando were a part) join him in the Far East.
Ron and his comrades then sailed to Burma via India with only 48 hours notice where they spent the next two years in and out of enemy territory performing operations designed to harry the Japanese. They were also involved in support of regular troops at Imphal and lost many men in the brutal fighting at Kangaw.
When the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki leading to the unconditional surrender of Japanese forces on 15th August 1945, Ron and 44 Commando remained in the Far East until August 1946, nearly 3 years since they had
sailed from the UK.
By the time they got home, the war was long since over and people had moved on with their lives. For them (and others who returned from the Far East, the ‘Forgotten Army’) there was no heroes welcome, nothing.
We have recently commemorated the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, but for Ron and the others who served in the Far East, the anniversary that means the most is VJ Day, when they will think of, shed tears over, and honour the many friends who fell, when they survived.
Their sacrifice was key in defeating Imperial Japanese forces, whose influence pervaded the whole of Japanese society at that time. Their bushido code created a cruel regime intent on expansion by force. Yet often this wartime enemy is forgotten in the shadow of the enemy that was closer to home, Nazi Germany.
Men like Ron (of whom very few are left) gave up 3 years of their lives in an incredibly hostile environment against a fanatical enemy devoted to their Emperor. One of Ron’s friends from 44 Commando living in Warrington still suffers bouts of Malaria 75 years on.
Ron, who like the rest of the Forgotten Army has never really received the recognition for the part he played in securing our freedoms, In the last 3 years Ron has been visiting local schools sharing his personal experiences of WW2 for the benefit of the next generation.
Thank you Ron!
We Salute You
ADN would like to thank Gareth & Jillian Powell for documenting this story.