Some historians have attributed the title “the forgotten army” to those who continued to fight in the Far East in 1945 after the war had ended in Europe. Such a description gives added poignancy to today’s V J day commemorations.
The 2.5m British and Commonwealth Service Personnel evidently felt even more cut off from their loved ones back home than those who had served in Europe. Communication was difficult and journeys backwards and forwards by sea, often intolerable.
But when it was announced, 70 years ago to this very day, that Japan had surrendered, King George VI prophesised in his speech to the nation that “we shall feel the inevitable consequences [of this terrible war] long after we have all forgotten our rejoicing today.”
I’ve e been looking at the experiences of some of the veterans and their families who will take part in today’s ceremonies across the country.
Alfred Nellis served in the 9th Coast Regiment Royal Artillery. His son, Michael says, on the website Far Eastern Heroes, that his father was shocked by the pain he went through when he came home. He met the two children he hardly knew. His dad, Michael says, wanted the world to understand what he had been through. But there was some reticence. It was hard to explain. Better not to talk about it. Just leave it there.
This is perhaps where the notion of a Forgotten Army came in. They were not talked about enough. 300,000 Prisoners of War in the Far East? Of which one third died in captivity? Perhaps we just couldn’t grasp the enormity of it all, with the world in such a state?
Many of us will have experienced, in very different ways of course, what it’s like to be forgotten. It’s rarely pleasant. But I was surprised, when looking this week to see how common a complaint it is in the Old Testament…….Oh God – why have you forgotten me(?) – why have others not appreciated all that I have done(?) – why am I being ignored (?). Such a lament has a rhythm in the Psalms – particularly in Psalm 31, “I am forgotten, as though I were dead. I am like a broken vessel”.
So if being forgotten can be described in terms of a shattered vase or a damaged piece of fragile pottery – it’s easy to suggest that the opposite is simply to be recognised and remembered, helping to repair through an act of restitution.
Today Britain will remember the courage and huge sacrifice of those who fought and those who died in the Far East. The 70 years between then and now will not diminish our empathy or gratitude. This is no forgotten army.
First broadcast 15 August 2015
《 BBC Radio 4：被遗忘的军队》出自：天天学英语