Published: 00:01, 19 May 2013
William Barker would never talk about the war, right up to his death in 2005 at the age of 84.
The only sign of him ever being involved in the conflict was a scar from a bullet wound on his ankle.
Now his son Colin Barker, of Queenborough, has reclaimed four medals 68 years after the end of the Second World War.
Colin said: “He wouldn’t talk about what he did out there. I don’t know why.
“He just wouldn’t open up.
“The only time he said anything was when the film Objective Burma came on the telly and he done his nut because he said ‘The yanks weren’t out there’.”
The 63-year-old thought details of the soldier’s past would be lost forever.
Then, a conversation with colleague Kevin Roberts at HMP Standford Hill where he works in a support role to prison officers, convinced him to find out his father’s service record.
Staff at the Prison Officers’ Association Learning Centre there helped by emailing back and fourth with the Ministry of Defence.
“I’m over the moon, it means such a lot to me and, of course, my family. My dad fought for his country and deserves the recognition” - William Barker
Mr Barker was given extensive forms to fill out but five months later, when he called to find out how much longer he would have to wait, he was told his father’s service record was lost.
His disappointment only lasted a few days, however, when a package turned up on his doorstep.
Inside were replicas of the Burma Star, The Defence Medal, The 1939-1945 Star and the Commemoration Medal, which now have pride of place in a frame in the living room.
Mr Barker said: “I’m over the moon, it means such a lot to me and, of course, my family. My dad fought for his country and deserves the recognition.”
Colin discovered his father fought at the Battle of Kohima, a turning point in the Second World War and spent time at Rangoon Hospital in Burma recovering from his ankle wound.
Originally from Wales, William moved to London before joining the army in 1939 and was a private in the Durham Light Infantry. When he was de-mobbed in 1946, he was not interested in collecting his medals.
Colin now hopes to attend the VJ Service in Burgess Hill, Sussex in August to find out from veterans more about the war in which his father served.
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