Veterans enjoy incredible first meeting

Two borough veterans who served their country in World War Two shared their amazing stories as they met for the first time.

Wednesday, 3rd January 2018, 3:49 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd January 2018, 2:25 pm
Veterans Jack Gordon and Thomas Boardman

Jack Gordon, from Ashton, and Leigh former serviceman Thomas Boardman reminisced about their time on the front line more than 70 years ago at an event hosted by military organisation Shoulder to Soldier.

Remarkably Mr Gordon, 94, and 99-year-old Mr Boardman had not encountered each other before but enjoyed sharing experiences from their long lives and their time in the armed forces.

The extraordinary meeting was part of a festive event for veterans and their families at the new Miller and Carter restaurant in London organised by the Leigh-based organisation.

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Linda Fisher, founder and trustee of Shoulder to Soldier, said: “Spending time with these two greats of World War Two was priceless. I have known them both for some years and wanted to introduce them to each other.

“We owe them so much. Everyone had a lovely time, it was a great get-together.

“Some of our armed forces families do find it hard at this time of year so it was a chance for them to be spoiled and for us to say thank you for everything that they have sacrificed and done for us.”

During the meal Mr Gordon explained that Mr Boardman may be entitled to another medal and Shoulder to Soldier will now make enquiries with the Ministry of Defence.

Both men endured harrowing experiences during their World War Two campaigns serving in the Far East.

Burma Star veteran Mr Gordon served in the Royal Navy as an armourer between 1941 and 1945.

He served on HMS Indomitable which came under heavy fire from kamikaze bombing attacks, with the Japanese still making attempts to destroy the ship on the very day the war ended.

Indeed, when the news broke on VJ Day that conflict was over Mr Gordon said at first he refused to believe it, knowing how ferociously the Japanese had fought.

Mr Boardman was in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps but his regiment surrendered to the Japanese in February 1942.

He and his comrades were marched 20 miles to Changi, where he served eight months as a prisoner of war, before being moved into Thailand and ending up in the notorious Chungkai camp.

Working on the Burma railway and living in horrific conditions, Mr Boardman weighed just six stone and contracted malaria more than 30 times.

Despite the horrendous circumstances he tried desperately to keep morale up and would entertain the troops by playing a ukulele he built himself which is now on display in the Imperial War Museum North.

He was eventually released in October 1945 after the surrender of Japan.