War hero to return to battlefield
By James HoreAN elderly veteran will swap Essex for the Orient when he returns to the scene of some of most horrific fighting of the Second World War.
By James Hore
AN elderly veteran will swap Essex for the Orient when he returns to the scene of some of most horrific fighting of the Second World War.
Former Royal Engineer Charles Huffey will revisit his past on a 10-day tour that will include time in Kuala Lumpa, Rangoon and Calcutta.
The 85-year-old, who is joining about 20 other decorated soldiers on the trip, which starts on Thursday, said he was looking forward to it with some excitement and some apprehension.
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It is more than 60 years since the former sergeant major was at the sharp end of the Far Eastern campaign, when he lost a lot of good friends when fighting against the Japanese at Pagoda Hill.
Speaking from his Coggeshall home, Mr Huffey said: “We are hoping to get up as far as we can to where we were fighting at Pagoda Hill where there were a lot of fierce exchanges in 1943 and 1944.
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“I lost friends out there, quite a number, and this will be the first time I have returned. Looking back is such a mixed situation and I cannot describe it myself at times.
“There are times when it feels like it was all just a minute ago, but more than 60 years have now passed.”
Mr Huffey served in Gibraltar, India and Burma and helped train soldiers in Africa when attached to the 81st West African Division.
His return to the Far East will be part of the events to mark the 60th anniversary of Victory in Japan Day.
Ten years ago Mr Huffey took part in the VJ Day parade in London when he was driven past the Queen and Prince Charles in an Otter Scout reconnaissance car dating back to the Second World War.
A large part of Mr Huffey's visit is being financed by the National Lottery's heroes return scheme, which has paid millions of pounds towards helping veterans make trips they might not otherwise be able to afford.