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Burma veterans' bloody confrontations

PUBLISHED: 13:27 27 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:54 03 March 2010

TWO battles in particular are seared on the memories of Burma veterans: Imphal and Kohima.

Towards the end of 1944 and into the final year of the war these two bloody confrontations were seen as turning points in the campaign.

TWO battles in particular are seared on the memories of Burma veterans: Imphal and Kohima.

Towards the end of 1944 and into the final year of the war these two bloody confrontations were seen as turning points in the campaign.

The Japanese had seized much of the Far East under new aggressive foreign policy, kickstarted by the infamous attack on Pearl Harbour.

By 1944, the Japanese were trying to advance into British-held India but the tide of war was turned at Imphal and Kohima by the 14th Army under the command of General Bill Slim. Despite thousands of casualties on both sides, the advance was stopped. The Japanese surrendered on August 15, 1945, now known as VJ Day.

The Burma Campaign saw the unorthodox Army officer Brigadier Orde Wingate raise the equally unorthodox Chindits to operate behind enemy lines. Their commando tactics were a great success in fighting the Japanese in the depths of the Burmese jungle.

The Burma Star Association was officially founded in 1951 with the involvement of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the overall commander Commonwealth forces in South East Asia and Field Marshal Viscount Slim, as General Slim became.

The motto for the Association was taken from the lines on Kohima Memorial, attributed to classical scholar John Maxwell Edmonds (1875-1958).

The aims of the organisation were to foster comradeship among those who experienced the bitter fighting in Burma and to set up a welfare organisation for members or members' widows in need. Last year more than 1,000 people across the Commonwealth were helped by the Association's Benevolent Fund.

Its first president of the association was Lord Slim, affectionately known as Uncle Bill, who held the position until his death on December 14, 1970, when he was succeeded by his son Viscount John Slim.

Lord Mountbatten was the association's first patron until his death on August 27, 1979, when he was succeeded by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

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