Michael only knows that his uncle was a medic and slipped when carrying casualties over a ravine. His body was never found and Ernest was declared dead in 1946. Michael’s parents found this hard to accept and it was difficult for them to find closure.
To compensate for this Michael wrote and dedicated a poem to the memory of 4536421 L/Cpl Ernest Flounders, West Yorkshire Regiment, Prince of Wales Own called 'A soldier's prayer'.
Having been paralysed from the neck down 27 years ago, Michael knew a trip to Burma to honour his uncle would be difficult, physically as well as emotionally. However, Michael was able to achieve his long-held ambition to pay his respects to his uncle and those who served alongside him by touring with Remembrance Travel, the Legion's travel arm. Most Remembrance Travel tours are accompanied by a qualified doctor and travel arrangements are planned to accommodate a wide variety of abilities.
Michael travelled to Rangoon in 2014 and attended International Remembrance Day services at Htaukkyan and Rangoon War Cemeteries. He also visited Mandalay, the Hill Station of Maymyo, as well as Myitkina in Northern Burma and the mighty Irrawaddy River, where the Chindits and Merrils Marauders battles were fought in 1944.
Remembrance Travel also arranged for Michael to be involved in a special Remembrance Service attended by local dignitaries, at which his poem was read aloud. The poem is now on permanent display in the Anglican chapel in Rangoon.
“Ernest will never be forgotten”, Michael said. “All those visiting the Chapel will know that he existed and that he served his Country. I can never thank Remembrance Travel enough. Everyone was so accommodating and with their assistance, I had no apprehensions at all about travelling in Burma and was able to do something special to mark my Uncle’s life.”
Remembrance Travel runs tours to Burma regularly. The next one is scheduled for 10-18 November 2016.
Visit www.remembrancetravel.org.uk for details.
Michael Flounders at the Rangoon Memorial, Htaukkyan War Cemetery