THE 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War has revived some bittersweet memories of the Burma campaign for Port veteran Ted Lalley.
Ted, who was a borough councillor for more than 38 years and twice served the town as mayor, was prompted to contact us after reading Alf Court's moving account of his own experiences during the Far East campaign which we published recently.
Ted said: 'What Alf said was perfectly true. I was witness to some of it and experienced some of the things he talked about. The monsoons, malaria and dysentery, it was all there.
'However, my story is about the saying that luck comes in threes, and in my case, good luck certainly did.'
He recalled: 'I did two years soldiering in England after being called up in 1940, and then volunteered to go abroad. This was granted to me and I travelled to India, arriving on March 17 1942, which was St Patrick's Day.
'I was transferred to the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in Cawnpore and Lucknow, where we trained in jungle warfare. My first run of luck was the night we boarded the gliders - planes without engines - ready to be towed and dropped in central Burma, which was occupied by the Japanese.
'A last-minute message came over that the landing strip we were going to drop on had been blocked by logs strewn on it. If we had taken off, we would certainly have crashed and possibly have been killed. We took off the following night and landed safely on another field.'
Ted went on: 'My second run of good luck was fortunate for me, but unfortunate for one of my comrades from Liverpool. I was selected for a section of 10 men to go on a patrol, looking for Japanese who we had heard were in the vicinity. I was one of two scouts chosen as lookouts.
'My comrade from Liverpool decided to go on the right of the track, I was on the left. We came to a crossroads where we could hear some talking.
'Tony, my mate, went to investigate and was shot by a Japanese soldier. The Japanese was bringing his rifle round to shoot me when I shot him and then threw a grenade in the bunker as there were others in there.
'My third stroke of luck - I presume you can call it that - was at the end of the successful campaign to clear the Japanese out of Burma.
'We had fought throughout the monsoons, caught malaria and carried on. As we more or less staggered out our commanding officer met us with the words, 'Well done lads', although he was in a state as bad as us.
'We were all put in a military hospital (men only). As I lay on my bed, which was just a wooden structure, an officer walked through the ward glancing at us as he went past.
'I asked the orderly who the officer was and he told me it was Captain Johnson and he was in charge of the hospital. He asked me if I knew him.
'I said that I should do as he was my own doctor from Ellesmere Port who lived in Thamesdale. I knew then that I was in good hands. So, as I said, luck did run in threes for me.
'If we hadn't received that last minute message, we
would almost certainly have been killed. If I had been on the right hand side of the track it would certainly have been me who was shot.
'And, after all that, to come
out of it and have my own doctor to look after me was certainly third time lucky. I'm not superstitious - I hope!'