VJ 70 significant to Hartford Second World War veteran
- Credit: Archant
The constant sound of jungle warfare, the awful smell of rotting dead bodies and the vast explosions.
All are vivid memories of veteran warrant officer Ivor Jenner as the 70th anniversary of the commemoration of VJ Day approaches.
Ivor, 90, from Hartford, remembers well his time in the Far East and the news of the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, finally bringing the Second World War to a complete end.
He was a Warrant Officer Sergeant Major in the 2nd Battalion Queens Royal Regiment West Surrey from 1944 to ’47 after being conscripted at the age of 19 serving in Burma.
The grandfather of six said: “I was in India during VJ day and because it was Ramadan there was a lot going on.”
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“But I remember that there was a lot of music going on where I was to celebrate.”
While stationed on the Asian continent Ivor was given the duty of having 250 men under his command to get them fighting fit for jungle combat.
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“I was a PT instructor who used to train the guys for jungle warfare – I used to make them train hard and get called many names because of it.”
Ivor also known as Muscles Jenner in the core recalls the times that he used to get the men to run up a gigantic hill in their camp as a part of training.
“The men would hate me when I used to say that they had to run up that hill.”
During his the deployment the former PE teacher was also tasked with high explosives to rumble to build and clear space for roads and campsites.
“There was a call that came through from C Company that they wanted to build a toilet but the ground was so hard that they wanted it loosened up a little.
“So being in charge of the explosives I went down and I put a charge in the ground and it was quite a heavy charge – blew everything out.
“All of a sudden the Captain rode out of the mess on his horse and said all the pictures had fallen off the walls because of the blast.”
But it wasn’t all explosives and larking about for Ivor he recalls the spell of dead bodies.
“The worst thing was the stench of the decomposing bodies in the air, I can still remember that smell now.”
After spending many years of not talking about his experiences in Burma Ivor started sharing stories with his family eight years ago.
“I didn’t tell me stories because some of them were harrowing – like many I didn’t say anything.”
His son Clive said: “He’s got so many stories to tell and could go on for hours but it is fascinating.”
A few years ago Ivor and his family went over to Normandy to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the war.
“We went to one of the cemeteries over there and came across the grave of the solider that had the next regiment number to me.”
In that moment Ivor felt so lucky but distraught that if he had signed up later then that could have been him.
He said: “I was just lucky.”