World War Two veteran remembers wartime in Burma

Sidmouth-based WW2 veteran Colin James Scherf who wants people to recognise VJ Day in the same spirt

Sidmouth-based WW2 veteran Colin James Scherf who wants people to recognise VJ Day in the same spirt of VE Day. Picture: Ann Stone - Credit: Archant

A World War Two veteran has spoken about his time fighting in the Burmese jungle including his near-death experience with a Japanese soldier.

Colin James Scherf joined the RAF when he was just 15, having borrowed his older brother’s birth certificate, and his young age earned him the nickname ‘Chico’ among his squad mates.

He was born in Harcombe and used to walk to school in Sidbury every day. He continues to live in the area to this day.

Mr Scherf was motivated to join the RAF because he wanted to fly but gunner was the highest rank he could achieve as he had to be able understand Morse Code to progress further, a skill Colin could not achieve no matter how hard he tried.

‘Chico’ was the youngest of the soldiers sent to Burma during World War Two and even spent his 16th birthday in the Burmese jungle.

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Mr Scherf said: “The other chaps kept an eye on me but soon reality kicked in, you were there fighting for your comrades’ and your life.

“One day we were having a bathe in a river when we heard some enemy aircraft coming so we took cover by diving and staying under the water till the danger passed.”

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Mr Scherf was close to death when he came face-to-face with a Japanese soldier, but luckily for the Sidmouth man, the Japanese soldier had no bullets left.

He struck Mr Scherf with the butt of his rifle but was shot dead by one of Colin’s comrades, saving young Chico’s life before he was then transported to a military hospital in India.

He said: “The size of some of the medical needles were scary but the camaraderie with your fellow patients was amazing. When I was learning to walk again, they used to throw pillows at me to try and knock me over.”

Since the war ended, Mr Scherf has wished more attention was given to the men who fought in the Far East.

He said: “VE day is always made a lot of and rightly so, maybe because the public were more involved in that, but the war and the suffering were not over till August.

“As it’s the 75th anniversary this year and I am the last surviving Sidmothian of the local Burma Star Association I would be so pleased if all the chaps that fought in the Far East were remembered.”

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