Burma war hero recalls conflict on Remembrance Sunday

Stannah marks day with stairlift donation to 89 year old veteran

A veteran of the deadly Burma campaign during World War Two has recalled his role in the conflict in memory of his fallen comrades, 67 years on.

Ivan Cawley, 89 and from Moortown in Leeds, served as part of RAF Ground Support from 1941-45, monitoring enemy fighter movements and supplying planes with fuel, ammunition and spare parts.

“Lofty”, as he was known by his friends, now has severe osteoarthritis in his legs and to recognise his great service, British manufacturer Stannah has donated a stairlift to help improve his quality of life.

During the campaign Ivan was stationed in Arakan, Southern Burma, where he played an important role in monitoring enemy aircraft from hilltops and relaying their movements to headquarters.

During his five years stationed in Burma Ivan survived multiple bombing raids and fought off Malaria in a campaign some have labelled a “forgotten conflict”.

Ivan is telling his story of service this Remembrance Sunday in memory of the some 60,000 British soldiers which served in Burma from 1941-45.

Ivan said: “I was 18 years old when I volunteered to go into the RAF. After training in Britain I was put on a troop ship that took two months to get to India, a British colony, and then on a train to Burma.

“We were constantly moving around the country dodging enemy soldiers and bombers trying to monitor enemy aircraft. We were also responsible for keeping our own boys in the sky equipped with everything they needed, which often involved transporting dangerous munitions across the country.

“It was an awful campaign and on this Remembrance Sunday I hope the country remembers the sacrifice of British serviceman to the conflict.”

After demobilising in 1946 Ivan joined the National Fire Service in Leeds and served as a fire-fighter for 30 years, saving countless lives.

He played a role during the devastating 1976 fire in Leeds city centre which to this day remains the worst the city has ever experienced.

Ivan married his childhood sweetheart Irene, 93, in 1957, who he had known since he was four years old.

As a sufferer of osteo-arthritis, Ivan’s movement in his legs has got progressively worse over the last six months, making it almost impossible for him to travel up the stairs in the home he has lived in for 40 years.

To honour Ivan’s service record and contribution to the City of Leeds, leading British manufacturer Stannah has donated one of its latest stairlifts to Ivan, through military charity The Forgotten Heroes, so he can better move around his home.

Ivan says: “I am proud to have done my bit and grateful to Stannah for donating a lift to me so that I can continue to live freely and comfortably in my own home.”

The new Sadler stairlift has made life a lot easier and has allowed Ivan to move around his home with less difficulty – meaning he can spend more time doing the things he enjoys such as catching up with friends and reading the newspaper.

acoleman 09-11-2012