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Guildford Veteran Charlie, Aged 100, Shares VJ Day Memories of His Jungle War

Published on: 15 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 15 Aug, 2020

Guildford’s Charles Mercer, now 100 years old, is sharing memories of his service in the Far East to coincide with of the 75th anniversary of VJ Day today, August 15. His story underlines the importance of remembering the World War Two generation’s bravery and sacrifice.

Charles joined the Royal Sussex Regiment but was seconded to the Nigeria Regiment as part of Operation Thursday, the largest Chindit operation behind Japanese lines up to August 1944.

He tells of his jungle war in “Voices of VJ Day – Remembering the Forgotten Army”, a podcast by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. In it, he recalls the brutality of fighting in Burma’s harsh and unforgiving conditions: “The stench of the decaying bodies was quite awful.”

Charles joins General Sir Mike Jackson, General the Lord Richards, the daughter of the late Dame Vera Lynn, Virginia Lewis Jones, comedian Griff Rhys Jones and a host of Burma veterans such as 100-year-old Peter Heppell, 98-year-old John Giddings MBE, 96-year-old John Hutchin, 95-year-old Herbert Pritchard and 93-year-old Joseph Hammond.

His old comrades also share their memories of how they fought the Japanese in the heat of the jungle, 75 years ago.

Voices of VJ Day podcast can be listened to here:

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Responses to Guildford Veteran Charlie, Aged 100, Shares VJ Day Memories of His Jungle War

  1. Charles King Reply

    August 16, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    My memory is as a six year old in 1937 being told by my adoptive brother, Jack Riches, never to forget to clean the back of my shoes. He was off to Hong Kong with the 1st battalion of the Middlesex Reg.

    I never saw him again. He was wounded in the battle for Hong Kong, taken prisoner and then a year later, he was drowned during the sinking of the Lisbon Maru off the China coast whilst being transported to Korea. This was a war crime as they took the Japanese soldiers off to safety but ordered the prisoners from Hong Kong to stay battened down.

    My brother Jack Riches was a POW and eventually the Japanese compensated my Mother £100.

    I have long ago forgiven the Japanese, but really feel my brother is one of the really forgotten men along with all his comrades who died. Maybe it was not a victory but they still died for their country.

  2. John Perkins Reply

    August 16, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Forgiveness is unconditional. Be at peace.

    There are many who remember, even though some of us weren’t there or even born at time. They’ll tell the story as long as people will listen.

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