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The Forgotten Army

On Remembrance Day Sunday, Scouts filed into the thousand-year-old church of All Saints, Compton, and remembered the dead of World War One and World War Two. They read the names of the men from this small village who had served and died. There were more than forty names, each a man, a life, hope for the future, some with children, some too young to father children.

We stood in silence to remember them (the truth means not to forget). They died to end a cruel tyranny. They hoped to give us freedom, justice, and peace.

The young Scouts read in crystal clear tones of the 'Forgotten Army'. They had interviewed an old survivor, one who had been awarded the Burma Star. He recalled heat, malaria, dysentery, leeches, and savage fighting. He spoke of the courage, leadership, and teamwork, which defeated the Japanese and prevented the invasion of India.

The Fourteenth Army "was the last great multi-racial army to fight under the British flag. One great quality shines out from this campaign and that is the enormous extent of the comradeship and sense of ‘belonging’ that united the British, Indian, Ghurkha, Burmese and African. They were indeed the great team of which General William Slim, their leader, spoke so warmly", and he was the leader they would do anything for.

"‘When we die, sir, is that the end or do we go on?’" asked a young soldier who fought in the campaign.

They went on.

When you go home, tell them of us, and say: For your tomorrow, we gave our today.

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