These words, inscribed on the Kohima Epitaph, remember those who died in the Burma Campaign. Allied victory in this crucial battle led to the end of the Second World War. Sixty years on, Chronicle reporter PAUL NEWHAM met veterans from the Crewe and District
Burma Star Association to share their recollections of the bitter struggle in the Far East.
THEY call the conflict in South East Asia 'The Forgotten War' for good reason.
With the war against Germany so close to home, the events thousands of miles away in the Far East never quite held the same significance in the public's imagination.
But what should never be forgotten is the fact that hundreds of thousands of young British men fought and died in Burma, Borneo, Sumatra and beyond, enduring appalling conditions in a brutally unforgiving environment against a ferocious enemy who seemed invincible.
As members of the Crewe and District branch of the Burma Star Association, most of whom are now well into their 80s and even 90s, gathered ahead of the 60th anniversary of VJ Day, a sombre sense of sadness filtered through the light-hearted jokes and chatter.
Branch chairman Ken Burgess, now 82 and living in Alsager, was under no illusions as to the reasons for that.
He said: 'We are the lucky ones. Those are days we have all tried to forget in our own ways, although we will never forget the men we fought with who didn't make it.'
Ken, who enjoyed a successful career working at Rolls-Royce in Crewe after the war, was posted to the Far East halfway through his apprenticeship at J H Jennings body works in Sandbach, serving as ground staff in the RAF.
He was in Madras, Southern India, when he heard the Japanese had surrendered, and admits to not remembering much about the day after that, such was the scale of the party which ensued.
He explained: 'I felt I hadn't sacrificed as much as some of the others. I was very lucky. The real heroes are the ones who didn't return.'
Ken's willingness to give his all in a crisis was not unique. Bettie Bradford, 80, who lives at Brereton, explained how her husband Wilf, branch standard-bearer for many years, spent six years as a volunteer with 2739 RAF Squadron in the Far East.
She said: 'He went out in 1940 when he was 20, and came back in 1946 so we could get married.
'I think a part of him wished he had stayed. He was proud of what he did.'
Branch president Hector Munro, the oldest surviving member at 90, spent a large part of the war in a Japanese PoW camp in Borneo.
He said: 'It is hard to remember, depressing even. But it is important we still get together like this.'
With only six serving veterans still left at the branch, this could be the last major anniversary of the end of the war they are able to celebrate together.