Whilst we were On Parade in Malaysia there was another service being held in Kanchanaburi, probably the smallest we have ever arranged but just as important as any other. We had received the following information from Dublin:
“On Saturday 15 June 2013 it is intended to hold a private commemorative event in the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Island Bridge, Dublin at 11.00hrs Irish time, to commemorate those Irish Defence Force personnel who lost their lives during World War Two who had been dismissed for desertion in 1945 by the then Irish Government and who will now be amnestied following the enactment into Irish Law of the Defence Forces (Amnesty and Immunity) Bill 2012.”
One of those men, Gunner Stephen McManus, died whilst a POW on the Thai/Burma Railway and is buried in Kanchanaburi. On 15 June our Secretary Bert Elson, Standard Bearer Richard Holmes and Dublin man Alec Hoare travelled to the cemetery. They were met there by Piper Angus McKernan and the Cemetery Manager Rod Beattie. A short service was held at the Cenotaph, a wreath laid and a lament played. We then moved to Stephen’s Headstone and laid a small wooden poppy cross by his grave and Angus played Amazing Grace.
Duties done we did what we always do, went for a pint and talked about what Stephen would have gone through.
Another of these men, Trooper Moran is remembered on the Memorial Wall in Singapore. One of our members, George Barrie, who is working there, also laid a wooden poppy cross at the memorial. We also arranged for another to be placed in Rangoon for Fusilier James Oates.
We have always remembered these men and always will. However, they are now also remembered by those who were probably most important to them; their own kinfolk.
Lest we Forget.