1. When and why is the Burma Star Association closing?
On 3 April 2019, after very careful consideration, the Trustees agreed that the Association should close on 15 August 2020, the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day. The reasons for this are given below.
Over the years, approximately 56,000 Burma Star holders – or holders of the Pacific Star with ‘Burma clasp’ – joined the Association. Although our records indicate that Association membership now stands at some 1,700, the actual figure is certainly lower, since the office is often not informed of members’ deaths. In theory, there are 32 Association branches although many of these are inactive, without having formally closed.
Furthermore, recent months have seen the deaths of key Association officers, most notably our President, Viscount Slim, and our Vice Chairman, Vic Knibb.
As well as dwindling and increasingly immobile numbers, the Trustees are also extremely conscious of the fact that the Association’s overheads now exceed welfare distributions, a gap that can only widen.
Against that background, the Trustees are extremely keen that the Association should plan ahead in order to close at a time of its own choosing. VJ Day was commemorated by the Government, under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence, in 2005, 2010 and 2015. There is every prospect that there will be commemorations – quite possibly for the last time – on 15 August 2020. Our proposal is that the Burma Star Association should therefore seize the opportunity to close ‘on a high’, on an anniversary of national significance.
In accordance with Section 18 – Closures and Winding-up of the Association’s Constitution (2014 Revision) – the Trustees have the authority to close the Association: ‘When the Trustees consider that the number of existing and potential beneficiaries qualifying for relief in accordance with clause 3 hereof is so small that the separate administration of the Association is no longer justifiable … and transfer its assets … to another charity … with priority for the benefit of persons who are at the time of the winding-up beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries of the Association.’
In 2005, the Burma Star Memorial Fund was established in order to perpetuate the memory of those who fought so gallantly with the ‘Forgotten Army’ in Burma. As well as creating and maintaining a memorial garden and grove at the National Memorial Arboretum, the Memorial Fund Steering Group has been working hard in setting up a scholarship programme with University College London. Our scholarships will be available to citizens of any of the Allied nations that contributed to the Burma Campaign. The 56,000 Association membership records and all back copies of Dekho! have also been digitised and are available to both view and add to on this website.
Through its carefully-phrased Trust Deed, the Memorial Fund is able to assume the Association’s vital benevolence role, thus enabling the transfer of the Association’s remaining funds to the Memorial Fund.
2. Why has the Memorial Fund set up a scholarship programme?
The Trustees of the Memorial Fund have thought long and hard about the best way to remember those who took part in the Burma Campaign and can think of no better way than creating a living memorial: a network of scholars from around the world whose learning and achievements keep the spirit of the Burma Campaign alive.
The scholarship programme is open to those studying a Masters degree at University College London in Global Health and Development, Applied Infectious Diseases Epidemiology and Engineering for International Development. We hope that the spirit and skills of the Burma Star scholars will link them forever back to the 14th Army in Burma, while helping to create a better world for us all.
3. How do I donate to this scholarship programme?
We are looking to fund fourteen scholarships in honour of the 14th Army. Each scholarship costs £50,000. Thanks to a generous legacy, we already have the funding for one scholarship. If you would like to donate, in whatever way, to our scholarship appeal, please follow this link. Alternatively, do get in contact with the Memorial Fund Administrator.
4. Can I make a donation in memory of a Burma Star holder?
Yes, our scholarships can be supported in memory of a Burma Star holder. The way in which your relative is remembered will depend both on the level of your donation. Please contact the Memorial Fund Administrator for more information.
5. How can I find out about my relative’s service in the Far East if they are now deceased?
The online archive collection has a digitised copy of the membership record of all those who joined the Burma Star Association. As the Association was only formed in 1951 it holds no details on those who were killed or missing overseas and those who didn’t join the Association.
For more information about an individual’s service record, contact the relevant service area at the Ministry of Defence as follows:
Army Personnel Centre
MS Support Unit, P&D Branch
65 Brown Street
Tel: 0345 600 9663
RAF Disclosures Section
Tel: 01400 268163
Royal Navy/ Royal Marines and WRNS
RN Disclosures Cell
Rm 48, West Battery
Tel: 02392 628672
Further information can also be found at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s website.
6. How do I claim my father’s/mother’s Burma Star medal and other medals?
If a service person’s medals were not claimed the medals can still be claimed now for service back to (and including) WWII. However, proof of death and kinship are required before medals are issued. If you wish to apply, please complete the application form from the Veterans Agency’s website AND the Certificate of Kinship form, and send both forms to the address stated.
Contact the MOD Medal Office
MOD Medal Office, Innsworth House
Imjin Barracks, Gloucester GL3 1HW
Telephone enquiries about medals should be directed to the MOD Medal Office
Free Phone: 0800 085 3600
Overseas: +44 141 224 3600
Freephone (UK only): 0808 191 4218
Telephone (from overseas): +44 125 386 6043
7. I need some welfare help for my elderly father/mother who served in Burma – where do I go for information?
In the first instance you should contact the Benevolence Secretary or check the Benevolence page on this website.
8. Are there any books to read about the Campaign or about my father’s/mother’s regiment, ship or squadron?
The Burma Campaign Memorial Library is held at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies). The library has a comprehensive collection of writings about the war in Burma between 1942 and 1945.
A descriptive catalogue of the material available can be found here:
9. Are there any trips to Burma for veterans and their families?
The Royal British Legion’s Pilgrimage Department arranges visits to Burma, India and Singapore.
Remembrance Travel Tours
199 Borough High Street
London, SE1 1AA
Tel: 020 3207 2321
10. Can you help with enquiries about Far East prisoners of war?
We suggest that you go to the Children of Far East Prisoners of War’s website:
Children of Far East Prisoners of War