War hero’s daughter joins VJ parade

Pat and Peter Keen with a picture of her father Fusilier George Henderson and mementos from the VJ ceremony in London.'Picture by Jane Coltman
Pat and Peter Keen with a picture of her father Fusilier George Henderson and mementos from the VJ ceremony in London.'Picture by Jane Coltman

The daughter of a war hero who was held captive in a notorious Japanese prisoner of war camp has spoken of her pride after attending poignant 70th anniversary VJ Day tributes in London.

Pat Keen and her husband Peter were VIP guests for the special commemoration on Horse Guards Parade, which included a traditional Drumhead Service, on Saturday.

The pair, from Amble, then took part in a VJ Parade down Whitehall, past the Cenotaph, and the statue of Field Marshal Lord Slim, who famously led the 14th Army – the so-called Forgotten Army – in the Burma campaign during the Second World War.

Afterwards, they attended a 70th anniversary reception. They were joined by senior political and military representatives, veterans and their families during the commemorations and even met Prince Charles.

The experience was organised by June Watson, who is secretary of the Warkworth and Amble District Branch of the Royal British Legion, to recognise Pat, who each year puts a wreath on Amble’s war memorial in honour of her father George Robert Henderson. He served in the Northumberland Fusiliers and was held captive in the Changi Prisoner of War camp when he was in his 20s.

Fusilier Henderson, from Amble, passed away 25 years ago, aged 72. He didn’t like to speak about his ordeal in the Far East.

Reflecting on Saturday’s commemorations in London, Pat, 75, said: “It was a very good day and I felt very proud of being a part of it. We were quite astonished by the crowds when we were marching down Whitehall. They were clapping and waving flags – it was a very moving experience.

“We met Prince Charles and I asked him if he enjoyed visiting Amble a few years ago. He said that he remembered coming to the town and liked the ice-cream he had from Spurreli.”