Burma war hero celebrates 100th birthday in Los Boliches

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ERNEST HALL: celebrated his 100th birthday with several generations of his family.

ERNEST HALL, a member of the British Legion and one of the last surviving former POWs from the Burma Campaign in the Second World War, celebrated his 100th birthday with several generations of his family in Los Boliches, Fuengirola on Monday July 27. Looking in the peak of good health, the heroic war veteran shared some of his memories with EWN when we were invited to join him at his party.
As a POW, Ernest worked on the notorious Hellfire Pass on the Burma railway (known as the death railway) which saw hundreds of thousands of Allied POW, as well as Asian civilian labourers, worked to death under deplorable conditions. The railway, built by the Japanese Empire, was built to connect Bangkok, Thailand and Rangoon. As many as 200,000 are believed to have died.
However, Ernest considers himself one of the lucky ones. Describing some of his near misses when he miraculously survived five incidents in which he escaped death by a whisker, including one in which a sniper bullet literally skimmed the end of his nose, the former soldier from the Second Battalion Leicester Regiment, also recounted how he had to survive on just three cups of rice a day for three years.
As a result, his six-foot-two frame was reduced to a weight of just six stone by the end of the war. However, he explained that the heavier-built American and Australian soldiers fared less well, because they were accustomed to being fed much larger amounts of food and they often died first.
Nevertheless, Mr Hall’s health was also extremely poor by the end of the war, so much so that doctors did not allow him to return home to the Isle of Man for another five months after the end of the Second World War. Even though the veteran soldier had travelled from Bangkok, to Rangoon and then to India, ironically, doctors said he was too ill to travel. There was further disappointment in hospital when his Captain told him that he had good news. When Mr Hall asked what it was, the Captain told him that he, the Captain, was now going home, not Ernest!
When he finally did get home, he was so emaciated that even his own mother did not recognise him and it took another few years before he could recover properly. While he witnessed some terrible tragedies, losing friends and colleagues in the war, his memory remains sharp, as he recited one of many poems that he has written and his sense of humour was on top form too.
Mr Hall, who also served in the Palestine-Israel conflict before the Second World War, celebrated his centenary surrounded by several generations of his family, including his son and grandson, who had come over from Belfast especially for the event, as well as other members of his family who are based here on the Costa.
This Burma war hero has clearly lived an incredible life and being privileged to hear about such an amazing life, we at EWN sincerely wish this soldier the happiest of birthdays with many happy memories to come.

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