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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Memorial for Burma war veterans
Veterans met in London recently for the 60th anniversary of the war
Former soldiers from the West Midlands who fought against the Japanese during World War II are to attend a special commemorative event in Staffordshire.

About 1,000 veterans from around the country are expected at the Burma Star Memorial Grove, at the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield.

A garden, in honour of those who died will be unveiled on Thursday.

The arboretum is the nation's living tribute to those who lost their lives in conflict in the 20th century.

'Great pride'

Amongst those present will be the Minister for Veterans Ivor Caplin MP, President of The Burma Star Association, Viscount Slim and Colonel Bathia from the Indian High Commission.

Countess Mountbatten of Burma will also attend the service conducted by the Right Reverend Hugh Montefiore, a Burma Star holder and former Bishop of Birmingham.

The service will commemorate the heroism and devotion of the armed forces of Britain, the Commonwealth and members of other services, including the Merchant Navy, who fought in the Burma campaign from 1942 to 1945.

Without their efforts and sacrifices our lives today would be very different
Ivor Caplin, Minister for Veterans

Captain Paddy Vincent , Chairman of the Burma Star Association said the plot at the arboretum gave veterans "great pride".

"It provides a worthy and permanent memorial for all those of many nations who fell and who fought on land, air and sea in the Burma Campaign," he said.

Ivor Caplin, Minister for Veterans said; "I am glad to have the opportunity to pay tribute to the Veterans of the Burma Star Campaign and to join them in this ceremony to commemorate a new permanent memorial.

"Without their efforts and sacrifices our lives today would be very different."

The plot covers 150 acres of land and comprises of a mixture of about 100 native trees, Scottish beech, elephant grass and bamboo.

A granite plinth displaying the Kohima Epitaph has been erected within the memorial.

It reads: "When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today".

In 1943, the South East Asia Command was formed under Lord Louis Mountbatten.

The men, forming the largest Commonwealth army ever assembled, fought some of the fiercest battles of World War II in order to prevent Japanese expansion.

They were dubbed the Forgotten Army because the soldiers believed their hard-won campaign was ignored at home.

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