Seventy years on, but memories of Far East conflict still run deep

Veterans gather at the war memorial outside Motherwell Civic Centre
Veterans gather at the war memorial outside Motherwell Civic Centre

War veterans and members of the public gathered to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2 in the Far East.

The Lanarkshire Yeomanry Group organised the Service of Remembrance and wreath laying ceremony at the war memorial outside Motherwell Civic Centre to mark VJ Day.

The Japanese Army surrender to Allied forces effectively marked the end of the Second World War.

North Lanarkshire provost Jim Robertson was joined by Depute Lieutenant of Lanarkshire Col David Cranstoun to mark the anniversary and pay tribute to those involved in the conflict.

Provost Robertson said: “We in Lanarkshire are only too well aware of the sacrifice made by local men and, indeed men from all over the UK, who served with Lanarkshire Regiments in the Far East during WW2.

“The war in the Far East lasted longer than the war in Europe, ranged over almost the whole continent and a level of sacrifice on a scale which we cannot begin to imagine.

“The dreadful ordeal these men suffered is unimaginable, as was the torment for their families back home. We are all eternally grateful for their sacrifice and we must make sure their bravery is never forgotten.

“The council is pleased to have been of help to the Royal British Legion and the Lanarkshire Yeomanry Group in organising the service.”

After the fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942, the men of the 155th (Lanarkshire Yeomanry) became prisoners of war and suffered terribly at the hand of their captors.

During the three-and-a-half years that followed, many more men died as POWs than had fallen in action.

Conditions for Allied troops in Far East prisoner of war camps were awful. The captors became infamous for their harsh treatment of prisoners.

The construction of the 258-mile Thailand to Burma railway, also known as the ‘Death Railway’, was one of the most notorious acts of brutality.

The Rev Robbie Hamilton from the Presbytery of Hamilton and Monsignor Thomas Millar from Motherwell Cathedral addressed the ceremony, which included an introduction from Campbell Thomson of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry Group and the Royal British Legion.