I am both honoured and privileged to be speaking in front of our War Veterans on this Remembrance Day, and add how grateful I am to them and their comrades in arms who fought for our freedom, and made it possible for me to be standing here today to tell you my story. A story on how a war, in fact - 2 wars, had affected me personally.


Earlier this year, the Chinese government invited my sister and I together with our spouses, - to attend a very special reunion.


We were to celebrate the 60th year of our liberation from a Japanese concentration camp, in what was then the small village of Weihsien, in Northern China, - now, a developing city named Weifang.


I would like to bring back that day to you ― that very special day……………. The day when I returned to my place of imprisonment.


But, before I do ― I would like to start from the very beginning:


My father was working in China before WW2 had begun, and my sister and I were living with our grand parents, in the quiet suburban town of Haslemere, Surrey, on the outskirts of London.


As the war in Europe developed, my parents decided that we would be safer in China, and so we joined them in 1941. I was only 2 years old at the time.


But, the decision to leave England proved to be a disastrous one, for during the month of March in 1943, my family, together with 1500 foreign civilians, were taken captive and imprisoned by the Japanese Army.


We were not to be liberated until the 17th of August 1945.


Now, because of the Chinese government’s generosity, we were able to return, 60 years later.


And so it was, on a light rain filled day, August 17th of this year, 2005, we found ourselves walking between rows of schoolchildren on our way to the reunion celebrations in Weifang, China. With grace and charm, each child bowed as we passed, and before taking our seats, scores of smiling Weifang inhabitants were to leave theirs to shake us by the hand. I felt my voice breaking with emotion as I tried to say thank you, - for these were genuine hands of friendship from people who knew the hardships we had been through and wanted to give something of themselves to us in return. They were our friends and allies during the Japanese occupation of their country, and risked their lives smuggling in much needed food and medical supplies to us during our captivity.


After the speeches, we were taken to what was left of our prisons. I spent some quiet time with my sister reflecting on those moments we shared with our parents in the tiny 12ft. by 9 ft. single brick structure we were forced to call our home for two and a half years. It was neither heated nor insulated, and I remembered, especially, the north winds from the Siberian wastelands that made those long winter months that much more difficult to bear.


I looked past our cell to where the prison walls with its sentry guarded towers and electrified barbed wire had been. I thought how lucky we were to be alive, and how grateful we were that day, 60 years ago, when we were mercifully freed by our American liberators.


Oh, there were many memories, not least the sincerity and warmth of our hosts who gave their hearts to us that day. And the one abiding moment I shall carry with me forever, was of their young children’s choir bidding us farewell. When they came to the end of their song, they raised their arms toward the sky - and as they did so - 1500 doves were released to their freedom.


I held my sister close to me, and as we watched the last of the birds fly away from their captivity, I realized more than ever how precious freedom was, and the cause our men and women had sacrificed their lives for.


To our Veterans of War, I salute you. You have my undying gratitude, and I shall ever pledge that I will NEVER forget you and your comrades; - for it was you that made it possible for us all to live today, - in a free and thankful world.