VJ veterans pay tribute to fallen

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The Independent Online

Yesterday it was the turn of the "Forgotten Army", those who continued to endure the cruelties of the Far East front long after Europe was celebrating peace.

Despite valiant attempts to maintain a chirpy tone, 81-year-old Reg Tully's eyes welled up as he talked of fellow servicemen who lost their lives, their health and their sanity in the jungles of Burma. Alongside his 83-year-old brother Bernard, he served in the 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, which helped to capture Mandalay. "There are not many of us left now but we still talk about the boys that didn't come back," Reg said. "Some were only 19."

The veterans stood for more than an hour on the sunny day, as they listened to the Last Post. Several collapsed rather than request a chair. As Big Ben chimed midday, a solemn procession including the Prince of Wales, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and the chiefs of staff laid wreaths.

John Baxter, 86, who served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, laid a wreath of white Singapore lilies on behalf of the Far East Prisoners of War Association.