To carry out and to achieve our aims, we have three projects currently running.
The key word is education and to establish friendship with those who were involved in the Burma Campaign including those from present-day Myanmar (Burma) and India. We aim to study together, exchange opinions and understand about the war. We cover the South East Asian occupation/invasion by the West and East and study many battles and human aspects. We collect veterans’ books, letters, and theses from scholars, historical materials, and documentary films/videos and so on. We try to take a broad view of war/politics/history and create opportunities to have forums/exhibitions for a deeper understanding of war related issues and wartime history.
Project A: Creation of York city and Shonai City International Friendship
- To make a linkage with Kohima War Museum and Shonai’s Local Library.
- To establish educational friendship with universities in the UK and Japan, particularly in Yamagata Prefecture where Shonai is located.
- To build a broad educational platform for achieving the purpose. To this end we are encouraging universities to create an exchange student programme. To enhance studying of WWII focusing on the Burma Campaign.
- To create cultural exchange opportunities to form even stronger ties with both countries.
- To contribute to world peace and prosperity using our two nations as an example of reconciliation for the future.
Since our current chairwoman, Mrs. Akiko Macdonald, visited Shonai city in 2010 to 2012, the relationship between BCS and Shonai city has developed. Each year she was invited to the British Kohima veterans reunion reception and memorial service in York. She now feels the importance of encouraging dissemination of war experience (including the individual stories) between the two sides on a regional level. Thus, the project was launched immediately after the visit to Shonai.
Please see the KET (Kohima Educational Trust) article: http://www.kohimaeducationaltrust.net/news22.htm
As the article says Mr. Kotoku Sato, a Lieutenant General of the 31st Division came from Shonai-city in Yamagata. The late Masao Hirakubo, OBE, who had been the accountant first lieutenant in General Sato’s Division established BCS and was its first chairman. (He was also one of the initiators of Anglo-Japan reconciliation since 1983. He helped establish BCFG, Burma Campaign Fellowship Group.)
Shonai-city, General Sato’s birthplace, has a local library where they keep his military uniform, mementos, and writings about WWII. Linking the two museums increases the scope of education in both countries, especially among future generations.
In November 2013, members of an organisation recently established in Shonai-city, are planning to visit the Kohima Museum in York. This organisation has been officially established with the approval of the local government of Shonai-city.
The Kohima Museum in York holds a vast amount of valuable material about the Kohima battlefield in North East India. Mr. Bob Cook, ex-military service man and the son of a war veteran, is the curator of the museum. Please see more details on their website.
Project B: Join the Memorial Service in India
- To visit Manipur – visit battlefields and give memorial services.
- To meet with Manipur people to form friendship.
- To acquire more war stories from their accounts.
Communicating with people in the WWll battlefield in India is very valuable to increase understanding and to get a sense of the place and people of the three countries.
In 2014, from March to June, the World War II Imphal Campaign Foundation in India will hold a 70th anniversary commemoration at several battlefields in Manipur.
Mr. Bob Cook the head of Kohima Museum and Mr. Christopher Johnson, a member of BCS, and our chairman, Mrs Akiko Macdonald are planning a visit next April.
Project C: Historical Data Filing
The late Masao Hirakubo’s historical data (letters, battlefield maps, albums, books, leaflets and more) has been scanned and a bibliography made. Selected items will be put on the BCS website and used for future exhibitions in the UK and Japan.
The digitalisation of this historical data was recently completed by Professor Ryugo Matsui at Ryukoku University in Japan and Dr. Kyoko Murakami, a lecturer at Bath University. The documents are appealing because they contain the facts recorded by, and thoughts of, people directly involved in the past events.