'He saw sights that it’s impossible for our generation to even imagine' - Kibworth man toasts his father on VJ Day, one of the last surviving veterans of the legendary 14th Army

Robin Rowland, 98, was interviewed nationally on the BBC on Saturday as the country paid homage to the Forgotten Army

Tuesday, 18th August 2020, 5:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th August 2020, 5:05 pm

A Harborough district man celebrated VJ75 Day with gusto as he toasted his hero father – one of the last surviving veterans of the legendary 14th Army.

Andrew Rowland, 63, of Dover Street, Kibworth Beauchamp, saluted his dad Robin Rowland as the nation marked 75 years since Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945.

And Robin, 98, who ended the Second World War as a high-flying major, was interviewed nationally on the BBC on Saturday as the country paid homage to the Forgotten Army.

Robin Rowland.

“I am so pleased that we all came together to commemorate Victory over Japan Day.

“It’s especially personal for me as my father fought the Japanese for three years in the Indian Army.

“He saw sights that it’s impossible for our generation to even imagine,” said Andrew, a chartered surveyor.

“We all owe so much to the courage, selflessness and sheer devotion to duty of people like my father who fought for our freedom and futures.

Robin Rowland.

“We put out the flags here at our home on Saturday before watching my father talking on the BBC.

“Dad’s image was projected on to Horse Guards Parade in London along with other veterans.

“It really was a special moment that will live long in the memory and I’m very proud of him.”

The dad-of-two said his father was born and brought up in Northern Ireland before volunteering to join the Army in 1941 as a 19-year-old law undergraduate.

Robin Rowland.

“Dad went out to India in 1942.

“He started out as a lieutenant and ended the war as a major, commanding B Company of the 7th Battalion of the 2nd Punjab Regiment in the British Indian Army.

“He took part in the Arakan campaign in Burma and fought at the bloody battles of the Admin Box and Kohima.

“I once asked Dad if he was scared.

Robin Rowland.

“He told me he didn’t have time to be scared, he just had to get on with his job day in day out as best he could,” said Andrew.

“On his way to Kohima he was looking after a mule train of vital supplies for the troops when he heard some music.

“He went to investigate and there was the one and only Vera Lynn singing the White Cliffs of Dover to the soldiers!

“Dad stopped for 15-20 minutes to listen and watch – and he still talks about Vera Lynn and that concert to this day.”

He said Robin, who went on to become a barrister and county court judge in Northern Ireland after the war, brought home a Japanese ceremonial sword with him from the Far East.

“Dad was part of a group of officers who went to disarm the Japanese and accept their surrender in Rangoon, the Burmese capital, in August 1945.

“He met my mum Kay on a blind date while out in India – she was a Queen Alexandra nurse serving out there.

“They were married in the early 1950s and had my brother Peter in 1953 before I came along in September 1956,” said Andrew.

“Dad just cracked on with his life after the war and never spoke about those terrible years fighting the Japanese much.

“But it’s only right that we all recognise and honour people like my Dad and his comrades for the incredible sacrifices that they made all those years ago.”