Colonel Tom Moore recalls ‘very very happy’ VE Day celebrations 75 years ago

Colonel Tom Moore today revealed he would be spending VE Day reflecting on ‘the deep joy’ of the date 75 years ago.

The Second World War veteran, 100, told MailOnline he would be spending the day at home with his family in Bedfordshire as he waits for a flypast in his honour.

He also implored the country to remember those who continued the fight against the Japanese after victory in Europe was declared.

Britain is commemorating the official surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces on May 8, 1945, following the brutal conflict.

Large-scale public events are unable to go ahead, but tributes will be paid by politicians and members of the Royal Family.

Colonel Tom's involvement in the war began in 1940, when the then 20-year-old Yorkshireman was conscripted into the Duke of Wellington's Regiment

Colonel Tom's involvement in the war began in 1940, when the then 20-year-old Yorkshireman was conscripted into the Duke of Wellington's Regiment

COlonel Tom's involvement in the war began in 1940, when the then 20-year-old Yorkshireman was conscripted into the Duke of Wellington's Regiment

COlonel Tom's involvement in the war began in 1940, when the then 20-year-old Yorkshireman was conscripted into the Duke of Wellington's Regiment

Colonel Tom’s (left and right as a soldier) involvement in the war began in 1940, when the then 20-year-old Yorkshireman was conscripted into the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. He told MailOnline he will spend VE Day at home with his family

Colonel Tom (pictured front centre, sitting on a tank), has also shared memories of watching Vera Lynn perform for the troops, and his bittersweet recollections of VE Day

Colonel Tom (pictured front centre, sitting on a tank), has also shared memories of watching Vera Lynn perform for the troops, and his bittersweet recollections of VE Day

Colonel Tom (pictured front centre, sitting on a tank), has also shared memories of watching Vera Lynn perform for the troops, and his bittersweet recollections of VE Day

Speaking at his home in Marston Moretaine, where he launched his £32million NHS charity work, Colonel Moore said: ‘I remain so happy that there was a victory in Europe all those years ago.

‘We must also remember the brave soldiers who continued fighting in the Far East for a further three months.

‘We should all quietly reflect VE Day and remember the deep joy it bought, but also the sorrow in the loss of lives which gave us all the freedoms that we sometimes take for granted.

‘I am spending today at home with my family. We will be having a lovely meal and then sharing stories.’

Earlier the veteran appeared on Good Morning Britain and told how he had been concerned about his comrades still fighting in Burma after VE Day.

Colonel Tom, who turned 100 last month, said his fellow soldiers were ‘very pleased’ the conflict in Europe was over.

But he told how the fighting still raged away from the Continent as the Japanese continued to battle for another three months in places such as Burma. 

Colonel Tom Moore (pictured at home in Bedfordshire with his daughter Hannah) today recalled the 'very very happy' VE Day celebrations 75 years ago but revealed he had been concerned about his comrades still fighting in Burma

Colonel Tom Moore (pictured at home in Bedfordshire with his daughter Hannah) today recalled the 'very very happy' VE Day celebrations 75 years ago but revealed he had been concerned about his comrades still fighting in Burma

Colonel Tom Moore (pictured at home in Bedfordshire with his daughter Hannah) today recalled the ‘very very happy’ VE Day celebrations 75 years ago but revealed he had been concerned about his comrades still fighting in Burma

Former army officer Colonel Tom told GMB: ‘It’s a very special day that is celebrating the end of a very fearsome war in Europe.

‘But today it really is a very fine day, the sun is shining on us too, so I think we all need to be very happy that the war in Europe did come to an end.

‘It was a very important day and everyone concerned was absolutely very pleased that this was the end … the bombing of London, the bombing of other cities … had come to an end. It was a very, very happy day.’

Despite war ending in Europe, bloody battles continued elsewhere across the world, with the Japanese not surrendering until September 2, 1945.

Colonel Tom added: ‘At the time I was very concerned that all my comrades I had left in Burma were still fighting.

‘My thoughts were with them because although there were great celebrations here all my comrades were still fighting in Burma with the Japanese.’

The former British Army Officer, who raised over £32million for the NHS during the pandemic, survived fever, the Japanese and giant spiders during the 1942-45 Burma campaign

The former British Army Officer, who raised over £32million for the NHS during the pandemic, survived fever, the Japanese and giant spiders during the 1942-45 Burma campaign

The former British Army Officer, who raised over £32million for the NHS during the pandemic, survived fever, the Japanese and giant spiders during the 1942-45 Burma campaign

Colonel Tom's role was to ride to the frontline on a motorbike because he was an expert motorcyclist, having bought his first vehicle aged 12 (pictured, sitting with trophies)

Colonel Tom's role was to ride to the frontline on a motorbike because he was an expert motorcyclist, having bought his first vehicle aged 12 (pictured, sitting with trophies)

Colonel Tom’s role was to ride to the frontline on a motorbike because he was an expert motorcyclist, having bought his first vehicle aged 12 (pictured, sitting with trophies)

A two-minute national silence will be observed at 11am to honour the memories of the British servicemen and women who gave their lives during the conflict.

The silence will be led by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and broadcast from a location in Scotland, where they are self-isolating.

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will reflect on the ‘courage and sacrifice’ of the war generation, describing reconciliation and hope as the ‘two great tributes we can pay’.

At 9pm, the Queen will address the nation in a televised message – the exact moment her father, King George VI, gave a speech over the radio three-quarters of a century earlier.

The Red Arrows will also fly over London, while RAF Typhoons will appear above Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast as the Air Force pays its respects.

Britain is today commemorating the official surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces on May 8, 1945, following the brutal war. Pictured: Piper Louise Marshall plays at dawn along Edinburgh's Portobello Beach this morning

Britain is today commemorating the official surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces on May 8, 1945, following the brutal war. Pictured: Piper Louise Marshall plays at dawn along Edinburgh's Portobello Beach this morning

Britain is today commemorating the official surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces on May 8, 1945, following the brutal war. Pictured: Piper Louise Marshall plays at dawn along Edinburgh’s Portobello Beach this morning

A guardsman stood beside a memorial to servicemen in London this morning, ahead of VE Day celebrations

A guardsman stood beside a memorial to servicemen in London this morning, ahead of VE Day celebrations

A guardsman stood beside a memorial to servicemen in London this morning, ahead of VE Day celebrations

The 'Tommy' war statue by artist Ray Lonsdale in Seaham, County Durham at sunrise this morning

The 'Tommy' war statue by artist Ray Lonsdale in Seaham, County Durham at sunrise this morning

The ‘Tommy’ war statue by artist Ray Lonsdale in Seaham, County Durham at sunrise this morning

Piper Louise Marshall plays at dawn along Edinburgh's Portobello Beach overlooking the Firth of Forth on the 75th anniversary of VE Day

Piper Louise Marshall plays at dawn along Edinburgh's Portobello Beach overlooking the Firth of Forth on the 75th anniversary of VE Day

Piper Louise Marshall plays at dawn along Edinburgh’s Portobello Beach overlooking the Firth of Forth on the 75th anniversary of VE Day

Also on GMB this morning, veteran Douglas Moore – who was recently applauded out of hospital for beating Covid-19 – spoke about his recovery from the deadly bug.

When asked how he was feeling, he said: ‘Very well actually. I feel very well indeed, as I do most mornings.

‘It’s a joy to wake up and see the sun shine as it’s been sunny for many days now and I look forward to sitting in my daughter’s conservatory and looking down at her wonderful garden.’

Talking about being given a guard of honour and applauded by the hospital staff as he left the ward, Douglas said: ‘There was an awful lot of people there. As I was being pushed along the way to the exit, they were all cheering me and I was clapping, enjoying myself.

Also on GMB this morning, veteran Douglas Moore - who was recently applauded out of hospital for beating Covid-19 - spoke about his recovery from the deadly bug

Also on GMB this morning, veteran Douglas Moore - who was recently applauded out of hospital for beating Covid-19 - spoke about his recovery from the deadly bug

Also on GMB this morning, veteran Douglas Moore – who was recently applauded out of hospital for beating Covid-19 – spoke about his recovery from the deadly bug

‘I’m going home, thank you very much, I had a nice time. They’re wonderful, absolutely wonderful. The two things about the hospital was the food was very good and the staff were excellent.’

And later Second World War navy veteran Ken Benbow made his second appearance on the programme.

Mr Benbow, who went viral for a video which showed his care home carer Kia Tobin handed him a cushion with his late wife’s image on it, spoke about how much celebrating VE Day means to him.

‘I wasn’t in the UK when V.E Day happened. I happened to be in the Pacific, we were on our way to invade Japan.

‘We were picking up men in the sea that had been shot down and taking them back to their aircraft carriers.

‘We were doing various things, but we heard on the wireless that the war in Europe had ended and Germany had been defeated, which was a wonderful feeling and we all were so very, very pleased.

‘But we couldn’t do much, because as I say, we were in the middle of a battle.’

Talking about wanting to get back to the UK to celebrate with his friends and family, Ken said: ‘Definitely, that was the most important thing.’

When asked what he will be saying in his speech later today in the care home, Mr Benbow said: ‘I’ll thank the Lord for my life. I’ve had a marvellous life, I had the most wonderful wife in the world.

‘I’ve got the most wonderful carer now, but they’re all angels here, I couldn’t wish to be in a better place.’

Second World War navy veteran Ken Benbow (pictured) also made a second appearance on the show this morning to talk about his memories of VE Day

Second World War navy veteran Ken Benbow (pictured) also made a second appearance on the show this morning to talk about his memories of VE Day

Second World War navy veteran Ken Benbow (pictured) also made a second appearance on the show this morning to talk about his memories of VE Day

Colonel Tom fought in the ‘forgotten’ Allied campaign in Burma during the Second World War and survived dengue fever, the Japanese and giant spiders in Asia.

In an ITV programme called Captain Tom’s War, which is being aired tonight, the veteran said he was enthusiastic about being conscripted and loved the military.

While serving in the brutal Burma campaign, known as the ‘Forgotten War’, Colonel Tom’s role was to fight on the frontline while riding a motorbike.

He has also shared memories of watching Vera Lynn perform for the troops, and his bittersweet recollections of VE Day which took place after he got home.

Colonel Tom’s involvement in the war began in 1940, when the then 20-year-old Yorkshireman was conscripted into the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.

He was posted to India, then under British control, the following year. ‘Being conscripted didn’t do me any harm at all,’ he said.

‘The reason for conscription was that the country had got desperately short of soldiers.  I didn’t mind at all. I mean at 20 you don’t think too hard about it.

‘I thought, ‘Oh great, it’s going to be great’.’

He described India as ‘an entirely different world to anything I’ve ever been in before’, and said the air conditioning they had was ‘quite necessary’. 

‘It did get a bit hot,’ Colonel Tom chuckled in the documentary.

Colonel Tom is hoping to draw attention to the Burma campaign, which was part of the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War.

One million Allied troops from 40 countries attempted to repel Imperial Japan from the then British colony over almost three years, between 1942 and 1945.

Speaking of the Japanese fighters, he recalled: ‘They were quite a formidable force because there were people who didn’t mind if they died’.

He continued: ‘They were awful, they were what we say, were completely without morals. They starved people to death and didn’t care. That was bad.’

‘I was only 21 or 22. You don’t get very frightened at 22’.

Colonel Tom’s role was to ride to the frontline on a motorbike because he was an expert motorcyclist, having bought his first vehicle aged 12. 

He said: ‘During the night, I was at the forefront with the Indian Army, fighting the night Japanese. And then, in the morning, when we thought the Japanese had gone home, my motorcycle came back into the picture.’

Decorated war hero Colonel Tom is hoping to draw attention to the Burma campaign, which was part of the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War

Decorated war hero Colonel Tom is hoping to draw attention to the Burma campaign, which was part of the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War

Decorated war hero Colonel Tom is hoping to draw attention to the Burma campaign, which was part of the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War

Decorated war hero Colonel Tom is hoping to draw attention to the Burma campaign, which was part of the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War

Decorated war hero Colonel Tom is hoping to draw attention to the Burma campaign, which was part of the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War

Colonel Tom walks behind an NHS hero sign just a week after his 100th birthday celebrations

Colonel Tom walks behind an NHS hero sign just a week after his 100th birthday celebrations

Colonel Tom walks behind an NHS hero sign just a week after his 100th birthday celebrations

‘The only way of getting to the front from the tanks was on a motorcycle through several miles of jungle, which fell to me again. I went back to the Regiment and that was a signal that the roads were clear and people came out again.’

Alongside Japanese soldiers, he said he had to battle fever and spiders ‘the palm of your hand’, adding: ‘That takes a little bit of getting used to’.

The ‘Forgotten War’: Burma’s involvement in the Second World War 

The Burma campaign was a series of battles fought in the then British colony of Burma, now Mynamar.

It was part of the South-East Asian theatre of the world war, and primarily involved the Allied powers: the British Empire, the US, and China.

They faced Imperial Japan, supported by the Thai Phayap Army and two collaborationist independent movements and armies, the first being the Burma Independence Army.

Puppet states were established in the conquered areas and territories were annexed, while the Allied forces in British India launched several failed offensives before August 1945.

There were four phases: the Japanese conquest of Burma in 1942; failed attempts by the Allies to mount offensives into Burma from 1942 to early 1944; the 1944 Japanese invasion of India, which ultimately failed following the Battles of Imphal and Kohima; and the successful Allied re-occupation of Burma by mid-1945. 

The Burma campaign was the only land campaign by the Western Allies in the Pacific Theatre. It was prolonged by seasonal monsoon rains, which allowed effective campaigning for only just half of each year; by famine and disorder in British India; and by the priority given to defeating Germany.

Colonel Tom said his commanders kept up troop morale with live music.

‘This charming young lady appeared. It turned out to be Vera Lynn. And to a lot of men who hadn’t seen girls for a long time, it was quite something,’ he revealed. ‘She did a little song for us, so it really boosted the moral of everybody. 

‘All I know is she appeared amongst us with Lord Mountbatten. I thought at the time, these top people get the best jobs!’

Dame Vera told the programme: ‘Burma was a special time for me and one that I will never forget. I was well protected by all the boys and never felt frightened. It was so good to help them feel that they were not so far away from home.’

Colonel Tom also shared his memories of VE Day, which happened after he returned to the UK and became a tank instructor. They bring back some bittersweet memories, he said.

‘We stopped instructing for the day and there were certain activities in the bars. A lot of girls and a lot of boys and put those together and you get a good time.

‘I wasn’t all that happy because all my friends were still out in the Far East, still fighting. They didn’t have a day off for VE Day, they were still fighting. I was a little bit unhappy about that bit.’

It would be three more months before the Japanese surrendered in 1945, and the world war against the Axis powers was finally over.

A cold war between the USSR – one of the Big Three – and the US and its allies would come to divide the world and dominate the rest of the 20th century. 

Reflecting on his experiences, Colonel Tom said: ‘I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself because I did… being in the Army, I really enjoyed being in the Army’.

The programme features contributions from the 100-year-old's daughter Lucy Teixeira

The programme features contributions from the 100-year-old's daughter Lucy Teixeira

The programme features contributions from the 100-year-old's daughter Hannah Ingram

The programme features contributions from the 100-year-old's daughter Hannah Ingram

The programme is narrated by actor Sir Kenneth Branagh and features contributions from the 100-year-old’s daughters, Lucy Teixeira (left) and Hannah Ingram (right)

Colonel Tom was awarded a Colonel’s rank by the Queen after fundraising for the NHS this year. He is offering words of comfort for Britons stuck at home.

The secret to persevering through a tough challenge is simply, he explains: ‘You start off with the first one, it’s a bit hard. Then you do another one, and another and think, well I can do another one, and that’s how you have to keep going.

‘The Yorkshireman, his word is his bond. I said I’ll do it and I’ll do it.’

The programme is narrated by actor Sir Kenneth Branagh and features contributions from the 100-year-old’s daughters, Lucy and Hannah.

Captain Tom’s War is on ITV tonight at 8pm.

Link hienalouca.com

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