Parade arrives at the Cenotaph in Duncan. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

VIDEO: Hoey and other Burma campaign veterans honoured at Cenotaph ceremony Aug. 14

The war in Burma against the Japanese was where Duncan’s only Victoria Cross winner lost his life

The Burma Star memorial was held at the Duncan Cenotaph on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

According to the Royal Canadian Legion, “The Burma Campaign took place between Dec. 11, 1941 and Sept. 2, 1945, commencing with Japanese forces invading Burma and driving British forces back to the Indian border. Since the Japanese held superiority in the Pacific, the Allies were not in a position to strike back and regain a foothold in Burma until early in 1944. The total surrender of the Japanese came on Sept. 2,1945.

The Burma Star was instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 as an award to those who had served in operations in the Burma Campaign during that period.

That campaign is of particular interest to Cowichan Valley residents as it was there that Major Charles Hoey of Duncan died of wounds, after demonstrating the amazing bravery that won him the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross. Former Second World War pilot George Brewster read some of Hoey’s history.

Legion member Betty James, told the crowd that other Burma Star holders used to gather at a special cairn — a replica of the one in Burma (now known as Myanmar) — located in the bush beside the Cowichan River, until it became impossible for them to make it out there. The place was chosen because it was one of Hoey’s favourite fishing spots. After they held a memorial there, they would come into town and hold another at the cenotaph, she said.

 

The memorial Aug. 14 remembers the veterans of the Burma Star campaign. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

George Brewster, a former Second World War fighter pilot, talks to the crowd about the achievements of Major Charles Hoey. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

‘The Last Post’ sounds in the air above the Duncan Cenotaph. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Several attendees at the ceremony leave their poppies near Charles Hoey’s name on the Cenotaph. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Legion member Betty James explains about the Burma Star memorial near the Cowichan River and how the event used to be celebrated. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

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