VJ Day

VJ Day: The Royal Marine Who Kept Fighting After WWII Ended

Despite Japan surrendering in August 1945, Ron Wilson did not return home for another 12 months.

VJ Day effectively marked the end of years of bloody conflict but for some in the Far East, the fighting did not stop with the surrender of Japan.

Many continued to serve as some Japanese soldiers refused to give up after the end of the Second World War.

One of those who continued to fight was former Royal Marine Ron Wilson, 95.

After serving in the Home Guard, Mr Wilson joined 44 Royal Marine Commando, aged just 18.

He was set to take part in the D-Day landings in France in June 1944 but instead was sent to the other side of the world where he continued to fight until after the surrender of Japan on 15 August 1945.

His unit was part of Lord Mountbatten's offensive against the Japanese in the Far East.

But preparations were far from ideal. 

Mr Wilson said he was told: "'No man’s going into Burma without jungle training.'"

"Within a few days we were packed up, we were back to Bombay, back on the ship and we landed in Burma seven days later, no jungle training – just straight in," he said.

"The Japanese had broken through again and they were throwing everything in to stop them.

WATCH: Ron Wilson speaks to Forces News.

"They wanted us to find lines of communication for the Japanese. If we could destroy their ammunition, their food... this would end the war quicker."

"We were very lucky and we stopped a lot of it.

"They had to withdraw Japanese soldiers to fight us and the Army, they were so grateful... one Army chap came over, shook hands with us and said ‘you don’t know what you did’."

Mr Wilson was then sent to Kohima and went on to fight in the Battle of Hill 170 in early 1945 - one of the most famous battles of the Burma campaign. 

"It was a 10-day battle," Mr Wilson said.

"We were shelled everyday... roughly 300/400 shells everyday landed on [us]," he said.

"When we left 170, the Indian Army formed up along the road and cheered us off."

Months later in August 1945, Japan surrendered.

The floodlit Buckingham Palace with the crowd cheering King George VI and Queen Elizabeth after his speech on VJ Day 1945 15081945 CREDIT EMPICS PA
People cheer after listening to King George VI's speech from Buckingham Palace on VJ Day (Picture: EMPICS/PA).

Mr Wilson was off the coast of Malaysia when he heard the news.

"We couldn’t believe it," he said. "We didn’t land in Malaysia, they diverted us to go to Hong Kong and Hong Kong was a right mess when we took it over.

"We started then working as quick as we could.

"We repaired electricity, we repaired water, we cleared the trains for them."

Despite Japan's surrender, the danger was far from over for the troops in the Far East as some Japanese soldiers refused to surrender and continued to fight.

As people at home celebrated and started to return to their normal life, Mr Wilson remained in the Far East for another 12 months.

"I didn’t get back until August '46," he said. "The war finished in ’45 but they kept us out there in Hong Kong.

"When we got home, the rest of the troops had been back for a year.

"There was no welcoming committee, nobody said 'oh, nice to see you back'.

"You just want to put it behind you and forget it. We did our job to the best we could.

"We just got to start our life again, we didn't waste any time."