Funding cut jeopardises veterans memorial service

PUBLISHED: 09:39 24 April 2009 | UPDATED: 21:45 31 May 2010

Burma Star veterans Jimmy Kemp and Benny Chapple  Picture: DANIEL WILSON

Burma Star veterans Jimmy Kemp and Benny Chapple Picture: DANIEL WILSON

A MEMORIAL service for veterans of the Second World War - who became known as the forgotten army - is at risk because of a funding blow. Every year on August 15 the Burmese Star Association celebrates the end of the war in the Far East with an event held

A MEMORIAL service for veterans of the Second World War - who became known as the forgotten army - is at risk because of a funding blow.

Every year on August 15 the Burmese Star Association celebrates the end of the war in the Far East with an event held at Duxford Imperial War Museum (IWM).

Now the museum has told the veterans, many of whom live in and around Saffron Walden, that it cannot afford to host their annual Burma Star Day.

Chairman of the regional branch Jimmy Kemp, who at 83-years-old is the association's youngest member, said: "We became known as the forgotten army because there was far more interest in what was happening in Europe - we now feel we are in danger of being forgotten again."

"There were a huge number of servicemen from the army, navy and air force who fought and died in the Burma campaign and it is important that their contribution is recognised."

The association, which has more than 80 members from Essex, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire borders, will have to raise £8000 to put on the event at Duxford. The association's oldest veteran is a 97-year-old man from Clavering.

Museum director Richard Ashton said: "The IWM Duxford has been proud to host Burma Star Day for the past four years and is delighted to be the venue for the Burma Star Association's national gathering.

"The current economic climate means that the museum is, regrettably, unable to extend the same financial support to the association in 2009 as it has done previously. Nonetheless, for 2009 Burma Star Association members and holders of the Pacific Star are still gifted free admission to the museum and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has also generously agreed to a fly-past during the day.

"The museum team will continue to organise the day on behalf of the association. The Imperial War Museum greatly values its ongoing relationship with veterans and we look forward to welcoming them to Duxford this August."

The association is now appealing for donations from businesses and individuals to help them pay for the event. Anyone who might be able to help should contact Mr Kemp on 01223 832447.

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