Sunday, August 16, 2015

At 18 I was fighting the Japanese in Burma

At 18 I was fighting the Japanese in Burma
Vic Knibb tells the BBC's Daniel Rosney.
"It's terrifying," he admits. "War is so frightening - it's a terrible thing.

"People are trying to kill you and it's no joke. You'd shoot them first and ask questions afterwards."

 … "I wrote a diary and it just said, 'Wrote to parents', 'Slept well' or 'Marched seven miles' or something like that.

"It's not marching - it's walking through the jungle in virtual single file with potentially the enemy about."

Vic remembers the day he was shot and narrowly avoided death thanks to his diary.

"This diary I've got here has a bullet hole in it from where I was shot."

"We were woken up about half-past four by the Japanese who attacked us.

"The diary was in my small pack which I was using as a pillow sleeping on the ground and I got this terrific thump on the back of my head."
    • On 15 August 1945 Japan surrendered and it's known as VJ Day - abbreviated from Victory over Japan Day.
    • Some countries mark this day on 2 September, which is when the formal ceremony of surrender happened in Tokyo, Japan's capital.
    • Earlier this year VE Day was marked on 8 May - remembering the day the Nazis surrendered in World War Two.
A bullet had ripped through the spine of the notebook.

He says "you just accepted it" when his comrades would die in battle.

"War is no joke. You're dirty, you're thirsty, you're hungry.

"You haven't got any news. We didn't know what was happening at all."

Victory over Japan

"We got to Rangoon [now Yangon] - Burma's capital - and someone says, 'They've dropped a bomb' and you hear they've surrendered," Vic remembers.

"We had no idea how big the bomb was. We knew it was an atom bomb but we had no conception what an atom bomb was."

Read how one woman survived Hiroshima's atomic bomb 

"There were 26,000 dead young British soldiers in Burma that didn't come back," Vic explains.

"With the VJ Day coming up it's in the memory of those 26,000 men that didn't come back. If it hadn't been for them the whole history would have changed."