Sons will represent the forgotten army
Pewsey Spar owner Andrew Connolly will fly to India next month to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal in place of his veteran father.
Andrew and his brother Malcolm Jnr will represent their 92-year-old father Malcolm Connolly Snr – the only known living survivor who fought in the combined Second World War battle of Imphal and Kohima.
Mr Connolly was part of the C Squadron, 3rd Carbineers who were involved in the evacuation of Lion Box in July 1944.
The Lion Box covered a four-acre area and contained a large ordnance supply depot, the largest in the Imphal valley and manned by administration troops of the British and Indian Army.
Mr Connolly lives in Ludgershall and is well-known in Pewsey through his work with building company Chivers.
He said: “On entering Lion Box, the signs of war were everywhere. Huts were burning and big Jap guns were firing from the tops of the mountains that bordered the valley.
“Slowly we were to learn the enemy we were fighting was cunning, resilient and courageous.”
He was invited to the commemoration on April 7 but felt unable able to make the 5,500-mile journey so his sons will be attending in his honour.
Andrew Connolly said: “Although this is one of the greatest battles in the Second World War, it is virtually unknown. As dad is one of the last known survivors of this particular battle it was fitting that he was invited but when he said that he couldn’t attend then the invite was extended to my brother and myself.
“We are both delighted to be able to represent our father at this ceremony.”
While in India, the brothers have made a request to visit an orphanage in Kanglatongbi with a view of setting up a charity in Wiltshire.
He added: “What I really want to do is engage with the orphanage in Kanglatongbi.
“We’re hoping to create a charity here in Wiltshire through our business and form a close bond with this orphanage because a small amount of money goes such a long way and when you’ve got fantastically generous communities here in Wiltshire it would be just fantastic to do something like that.
“Not only is it about representing dad, it’s about bringing something back and leaving a legacy for dad and the members of the Forgotten Army.”