‘If you don’t kill, you will be killed’: Remembering the fight against Japan in World War Two

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At 18 years old, Private Joseph Hammond was drafted from Ghana to fight with the 82nd Division in Burma.

He joined the war in 1943 as the Allies were beginning to turn the tide against the Japanese.

He still lives in Ghana and spoke to Sky News as the Royal Family prepares to lead services in the UK on the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.

Joseph Hammond is a World War Two veteran

It was the most terrible thing in my life. I’m short of words to explain it to you.

We were told that if you don’t kill, you will be killed. That was the order of the day. If you don’t do it and you hesitate, in one second the enemy will kill you.

It was a fearful time. The way we were crossing rivers and crossing trenches and fighting against the Japanese – it was terrible, terrible, terrible.

The Japanese would drop their bombs at the same time as their artillery shelled our positions. We were in our trenches and the whole ground would be shaking.

VJ Day: The real end of the Second World War

VJ Day: The real end of the Second World War

I know they had respect for us because the fighting was so much. They nearly overran our trenches and it was close combat fighting with our bayonets. It was fearful.

Luckily we had two Bren gunners from Ghana and they increased our firepower and because of that the Japanese were forced to retreat and withdraw.

Some of the Japanese were carrying long swords and when they got to your trench they would cut your head off.

We were lucky but we left so many loved ones behind us.

When I went into the war I was 18 and I thank God for preserving my life so I can tell people what really happened.

Whoever likes war is not in his right senses and is a lunatic. We must ensure there is no war again.

I felt like I was walking on clouds when it was all over. Where there is peace, there is progress.


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