However, this year’s VJ Day seemed to resonate beyond the Armed Forces community. A large part of that is down to the success of Oppenheimer, the biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, ‘the father of the atomic bomb’, whose scientific research led directly to the two bombs being dropped on Japan. 

Sadly, another reason, at least in one Scottish community, for the prominence of the Japanese element of the war this year was the passing of Jack Ransom – a Legion Scotland stalwart and the last remaining UK survivor of the horrors of the Burma Railway. 

The Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, was a 258-mile length of track between Ban Pong in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Burma (now called Myanmar). Over several years, beginning in 1940, prisoners of war and civilian labourers were forced by the Japanese to construct the railway so as to improve the efficiency of supplying troops and weapons into Burma. 

The human cost of the railway was immense: some 12,000 Allied prisoners and 90,000 civilians died, while more than 60,000 prisoners of war and up to 250,000 civilians were subjected to forced labour in harsh conditions. Most of the railway was deconstructed after the war. 

Having joined the Territorial Army in 1939, Jack Ransom was soon in Singapore with the 118 Field Regiment Royal Artillery. He was captured by Japanese forces and spent three years, 1942-45, working on the railway. In that time he lost five stone from starvation and many of his comrades did not survive. 

In 2020, Jack told The Scotsman, “Thinking back over the past 75 years to 1945, there are three things that are in my mind. One, I never forget my comrades – those that did not come home. The second thing is, I always think that if it hadn’t been for the dropping of the atom bombs, I would not have been released in time to survive. But, of course, in my mind is the thought that by dropping the atom bombs, all of those civilians – men, women and children – died in Japan. 

“And last thing, now that I am 100 and have received a birthday card from Her Majesty The Queen, I think of the emperor of Japan, who should have also sent me a birthday card. After all, I did work for his grandfather, too.” 

Jack became a key member of Largs branch and published his memoirs a few years ago. All were sad to hear of his passing.