Newsletter - Issue 1 - News from the Burma Star Memorial Fund
Posted on 16th Jun 2020 by Sarah Gray
View the Newsletter Online here.
THE MEMORIAL FUND’S RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC, THE VISCOUNT SLIM
The Burma Star Association (the Association) was formed in the wake of the destruction and devastation of the Second World War to help nurture the comradeship experienced during the bitter fighting in the jungles and hostile terrain of Burma and to support those who served in this Campaign. The Association has now merged with the Burma Star Memorial Fund (the Memorial Fund) and the objectives and mission of the Memorial Fund remain true to the spirit of all those who served in Burma. As my grandfather, General Bill Slim, said: “Many races fighting and working in comradeship learned to appreciate one another’s values. Carry that mutual respect into the future, wherever you may be called. Carry with you, too the qualities that made the Fourteenth Army what it was.”
The work of the Memorial Fund hinges on the ethos and spirit of the Fourteenth Army. We were not to know how prescient our vision was to be. At the end of 2018 we partnered with University College London (UCL) to launch the Burma Star Scholarship Programme to keep the memory alive of all those who served in Burma. We chose to focus on subjects where work was desperately needed and that had real synergy with the Burma Campaign. In this update you can read how our first scholar is coping during this crisis as he perseveres with his Masters in Engineering for International Development. Our Burma Star Scholarship Programme will also support students studying in the Global Health and Development department of UCL. Their focus will be on Applied Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, subjects very close to the hearts of those who served in Burma and vitally important to the world today. We also report on the response of UCL’s Global Health Department to the Covid-19 situation in this update.
Our Scholarship Programme supports students from around the world who want to make the world a better place. Their spirit, skills and passion for changing the world are a living memorial to those who served in Burma. And nowhere have we seen this more than in the good humour of Captain Sir Tom Moore, a Burma Star holder who has captured the nation’s imagination and represents all of the very best qualities of the Fourteenth Army. I had the honour of being interviewed alongside him for an ITV documentary and you can read about this interview below.
Finally, in these very challenging times, the core qualities of the Fourteenth Army - fellowship, tenacity and resourcefulness - have become critical to our survival and well-being once again. Our Burma Star scholars will help the world tackle the issues it faces in the same way that the Fourteenth Army did 75 years ago. Here at the Memorial Fund, like many organisations around the country, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has hit our fundraising hard. We have, nevertheless, attempted to counter its effect by cutting costs, but your support of the charity is vital now, more than ever. You can find out more about how to support us here.
LIFE AS A BURMA STAR SCHOLAR DURING THE PANDEMIC: A MESSAGE FROM OUR INAUGURAL SCHOLAR, AKARASETH PURANASAMRIDDHI
I am currently living in London during the self-isolation period and have been mainly working on my university assignments. UCL has decided to move their classes online and postponed a number of submissions to later this month. Apart from this, I have been doing some reading and catching up with friends from different parts of the world via video chat; we have been sharing our experiences of self-isolation. I have also spoken with a few friends who are working on the frontline as doctors and nurses for the NHS and various hospitals in Canada to get a glimpse of their bravery and the challenges they are facing during this extraordinary situation.
While there have been uncertainties during these past few months, this scholarship has provided me with a stable foundation from which I can continue focusing on my studies without worrying about how this situation will impact me financially. After completing my assignments, I will be working on my dissertation on sustainable rural electrification, aiming to gain a better understanding of rural communities’ energy needs in developing countries. This research is a collaboration between my research group at University of Oxford and my current faculty at UCL.
Thank you very much for your continued support and I hope everyone’s staying healthy during this time.
THE INSTITUTE OF GLOBAL HEALTH AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE FIGHT AGAINST THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Our academic partner for the Burma Star Scholarship Programme is University College London (UCL). Our 2021/22 scholar will study at the Institute for Global Health at UCL. UCL experts are taking a prominent role in advancing public knowledge about the virus by advising world leaders, providing expert comment in the media and urgently researching new ways of tackling Covid-19. Examples of some of their work are compiled here.
Professor Anthony Smith, Vice Provost (Education) commented: “I am passionate about UCL’s scholarship and student funding programme. Scholarships are a powerful key to unlocking opportunities for talented students who don’t have a clear pathway through higher education. Scholarships transform lives: for students, their families, and their communities. Those who receive UCL scholarships will transform the world in turn. Now more than ever we must ensure that young people are given the opportunity to reach their full potential. With your help, we can bring a UCL education within the reach of the many, not the few. By investing in scholarships at UCL, you are making a statement about what kind of society you care about and want to thrive, now and in the future.”
COLONEL SIR TOM MOORE
Tom Moore served in Burma during the Second World War. He entered officer training in 1940 at the age of 20, going on to serve in India before reaching Burma. There he was involved in the massive amphibious assault on the Arakan, before pushing on with his troops to the capital, Rangoon.
He was made a full member of the Burma Star Association on his 100th birthday. His extraordinary efforts to raise money for the NHS have captured the nation’s hearts. The Viscount Slim was honoured to feature alongside Colonel Tom in ITV’s “Captain Tom’s War” which was broadcast on VE-Day and can be watched here.
Tom Moore served with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment
THE MEMORIAL FUND AT CLARENCE HOUSE WITH OUR PATRON, HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES
Roy Miller (left) and John Giddings, Chairman of the Burma Star Association, meet HRH The Prince of Wales
Burma Star veterans from the Royal Hospital Chelsea meeting our Patron at Clarence House on 2 March 2020
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales became Patron of the Memorial Fund at the end of 2019, following in the footsteps of both his great-uncle, Earl Mountbatten, who was Patron of the Burma Star Association from its inauguration in 1951 and his father, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who became Patron in 1979.
The Prince of Wales hosted a reception at Clarence House on 2 March, during which he met some of the last surviving Burma Star veterans. He gave a poignant speech at the end of the evening which you can read in full here.