Remembering VJ Day 70 years on 15 August 2015 ..
Of the Devoran War memorial casualties from WW2, one of them Alfred Claude Brenton Sowden was lost on special operations with SOE Force 136 in the closing stages of the war in the Far East. Sergeant Alfred Claude Brenton Sowden, 841889, Royal Corps of Signals, awarded B.E.M. (Military), for his SOE service in France July 1944, died on 7 September 1945, aged 27. He is remembered on the Rangoon Memorial in Burma to those with no known grave. It is possible he died from wounds or tropical disease. An interesting section on a Canadian Veteran’s Affairs website (see http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/sub.cfm?source=history/secondwar/courage/asia) mentions what Force 136 SOE men like Alfred Sowden did in August 1945:
The surrender of the Japanese after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, changed the role of undercover agents in the Asian countries. Their role shifted to one of accepting the surrender of Japanese units and keeping public order until civil government could be restored. Force 136 also played a key role in assisting prisoners of war in these countries.”
Son of the farm manager at Killiganoon Farm, Alfred Sowden died on 7 September 1945, a few weeks after the war ended on VJ Day 70 years ago today. https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/devoran-second-world-war-casualties-s-to-z/ Hopefully when the VJ Day news came through, many people in Devoran could give thanks and celebrate the end of another terrible world war. The Sowden family would receive their sad news several weeks after VJ Day. The ‘Kohima prayer’ adopted by the Burma Star association is a fitting end to this blog post:
“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today” http://www.burmastar.org.uk/epitaph.htm
Alfred Sowden and many others, Remembered with thanks on VJ Day 70 in their home village of Devoran
I have found few records of VE or VJ Day celebrations in Devoran 1945 or how the national Victory Parade was celebrated in June 1946, so I would love to hear more (through the comments page or firstname.lastname@example.org) of how these events were marked in Devoran.
In Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran and its River book there is a reproduction of Devoran County Primary School’s Victory Day card 8th June 1946.
Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project.