Far East veteran Duncan Hilling, who served with 2nd Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers, was presented with his campaign medal in a special ceremony held to mark VJ Day 75.
With his battalion he moved to Japan as occupying force for two long years after the war ended, part of the ‘forgotten’ troops who served long after the celebrations ended.
Having not picked up his medal on his return, on hearing his story recently, The Royal Welsh were able to obtain the medal that Duncan, like all veterans, so richly deserves.
It was presented to him in a special ceremony outside his Pembrokeshire home to mark VJ Day 75, with the Last Post being played and two minutes silence held, as Duncan finally accepted his medal, in honour of his former comrades and of all others who served in India, Japan and Burma.
Duncan said, “The main reason that I didn’t bother to pick up a medal was that I felt that I had done nothing towards the execution or finish of the war. When we were in Northern India lots of the boys from the 2nd Battalion came back to our barracks before going home and I really felt that the hardship that they had endured and the little bit of inconvenience that I had suffered was nothing by comparison and that I really wasn’t worthy of carrying a medal.
“Now I look at in a different way and I wear it not for myself but as tribute to the men who died and the men who served there and the hardship they endured.”
One memory, still bright as day, was the end of guard duty parade formed by 2nd Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers in September 1946 at the British Commonwealth Occupation Force HQ, Eta Jima, Japan. The assault pioneers are led by Goat Major T Dean with Duncan somewhere behind!
At last month’s ceremony Duncan met the current Goat Major of 3rd Battalion Royal Welsh, Sgt Jackson.