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Sons to honour dad with 5,000-mile trip to battle commemoration
TWO sons will fly out in place of their father - the only living survivor of a Second World War battle that killed thousands - to attend a five-day commemorative event.
Mayor of Fordingbridge Malcolm Connolly and his brother Andrew will be representing their 92-year-old father Malcolm at the 70th anniversary of Britain’s biggest battle in India next month.
Mr Connolly Snr is the only known survivor who fought in the combined battle of Imphal and Kohima, when 200,000 Japanese, British, Indian and Ghurka soldiers clashed in the hills and valleys of Manipur.
Mr Connolly Snr, of the C Squadron, 3rd Carbineers, was involved in the evacuation of Lion Box in an epic struggle that lasted from March until July 1944.
The Lion Box covered a four-acre area and contained a large ordnance supply depot, the largest in the Imphal valley and manned by administration troops of the British and Indian Army.
Mr Connolly Snr, who lives in Ludgershall, said: “On entering Lion Box, the signs of war were everywhere. Huts were burning and big Japanese guns were firing from the tops of the mountains that bordered the valley.
“Slowly we were to learn that the enemy we were fighting was cunning, resilient and very courageous.”
The five-day commemoration will involve a series of events and services of Remembrance supported by the Indian Army to mark and honour key dates from the Battle of Imphal.
Mr Connolly Jnr said: "While our father is a fit man, we considered the 5,500-mile journey too arduous at the age of 92.
“We are both delighted to be able to represent our father at this special ceremony.
“A commemoration will allow us to remember and pay our respects to all those who fell, were injured or affected by the events of 1944.
“It will also help to shine a much-needed spotlight on what is otherwise a forgotten, yet important, chapter of world history.
“While we are in India I have also requested to visit the orphanage in Kanglatongbi with a view of long-term financial support through our business as a lasting legacy to dad and the members of the Forgotten Army.”
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