VJ veterans share stories with Red Arrows during 75th anniversay

Three Scottish veterans met the Red Arrows at Glasgow Prestwick airport to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day.

Veterans Whitson Johnson, Albert Lamond and Barney Roberts greeted the pilots as they stopped to refuel during the Red Arrows’ nationwide tour.

The men exchanged stories of serving in the armed forces, three quarters of a century apart.

Commemorations have taken place around the country on Saturday to mark the anniversary, with the Red Arrows conducted a flypast over Glasgow Prestwick Airport before landing to meet with the veterans.

Mr Johnson, 96, served in the RAF from 1942 to 1947 deciphering codes in support of the Fourteenth Army in the Far East and spent time in Bombay, Calcutta, Chittagong, Hmawbi and Burma.

Mr Johnson said: “As far as I was concerned, August 15 was when the war ended.

“That was a great day. I will never forget it. War is a terrible thing.

“I learned that lesson and I realise there is no point in war.

“I am glad that the war finished when it did, and the Allies were victorious.

“I can hardly believe that it has been 75 years since that day.”

Mr Lamond, 94, served in the Royal Navy from 1943 to 1947 as a signalman and was at Sword Beach during the D-Day campaign.

He was later attached to the Pacific Fleet that joined with the American Navy under the command of Admiral Halsey of the US Navy in the Far East.

Bernard “Barney” Roberts, 93, served in the Royal Navy from 1942 to 1947 initially serving on a minelayer to protect the Arctic Convoys from German U-boats before fighting in Italy and later in North Africa.

Mr Roberts said: “On VJ Day I felt great relief and happiness that it was finally over.

“My message to everyone today and in particular the younger generation is that we are very lucky, very lucky indeed not to be involved in a war like the Second World War.

“So many of us owe the freedoms we have today to the Second World War generation.”

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said on Saturday his thoughts were with the wartime generation.

He added: “It is a day to reflect on the selflessness of so many men and women.

“It’s thanks to veterans such as those who met up with the Red Arrows at Glasgow Prestwick Airport that we are able to live freely.

“Today as a nation we honour and remember them all.”

Scottish-born Squadron Leader Martin Pert, team leader and Red 1 of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, said: “It is an enormous privilege, as members of the modern day Royal Air Force, to meet these incredible veterans as they continue to provide inspiration to us all, particularly when we reflect on their sacrifice and service.

“Although separated by different generations and circumstances, there is still so much we have in common with these individuals – indeed, the UK’s Armed Forces in 2020 seek to embody the same values, qualities and determination of our forebears.”