The British Fourteenth Army played a significant part in defeating Japan, and on Saturday, 15 August 2020, the world commemorated the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, aka, Victory over Japan day when on that date Imperial Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers. The surrender was formally signed on 2 September, 1945.
Commanded by Lieutenant-General Slim, the British Fourteenth Army were a mixed bunch comprising British and Indian Army as well as West and East African troops in addition to Karen hill tribes. It was also known as ‘The Forgotten Army’, due to the world’s focus on the European as well as the Pacific theatres of war rather than the Burma Campaign.
A particularly vicious battle was that at Kohima, the capital of Nagaland in northeast India. This raged from 5 April to 22 June, 1944. Fighting was savage with no quarter given or taken, many times hand-to-hand. The weather and the land, especially during the monsoon, were unforgiving.
Did I say they were a mixed bunch? Y’know, white skinned, dark skinned…
Fighting alongside each other.
For each other.
The monument to the dead of Kohima is simple, ‘When you go home, tell them of us and say: ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today.’
In my last post I wrote, ‘Let’s give it up for the person in the street.’ We are that person. We can also be heroes, and many of us are. Since then, I’ve come to look at the heroes that are all around us. Just so’s you know, not all heroes are human.
Some of them are rats.
There’s a Belgian Non Government Organisation, NGO, called APOPO that deploys African giant pouched rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis using the incredible sense of smell these animals have. The rats are trained and then sent out to Tanzania, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, to wherever they’re needed.
The rats aren’t the only heroes.
So are the people with whom they work, their ‘handlers’.
So are the people that train the rats to do this so very worthwhile work.
So are the people who support this initiative – again, people like you and me. The people in the street.
Let us ignore those who rant; who splutter their hatred and bile to gain power or influence. Let us ignore them and see them for what they are since they are not heroes. And never will be. They are the ones who make sure that any sacrifice asked for does not impact them or theirs. I sometimes wonder if they have any humanity at all. They are not heroes.
So again, let’s give it up for the people in the street, for that is us. Let’s also give it up for those who aren’t even aware that we consider them heroes and just carry on doing their job. I’m talking, of course, about humans and animals here – obviously.