In honour of the hundreds of heroes who saw active service in the Far East, London’s black cab drivers are forgoing fares to transport veterans around the capital during this Saturday’s VJ Day celebrations.
Scores of cabbies are offering their services to the London Taxi Benevolent Association For War Disabled – otherwise known as the Taxi Charity - to pick up veterans from mainline London stations and central venues to taxi them to Horse Guards Parade for the ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan.
Over 800 veterans are expected at the traditional Drumhead service which will be attended by The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Prime Minister David Cameron and senior political and military officials representing the UK and her allies.
Vets who were awarded the Burma Star and Pacific Star will parade down Whitehall before attending an afternoon reception at the College Gardens, Westminster Abbey, hosted by the Royal British Legion.
91-year old Danny McCrudden who served with the Royal Navy’s Pacific Fleet said: “I'm very excited as I didn't know if there was to be a celebration until recently. People ask me about VE Day and what I was doing then. ‘Still fighting,’ is what I tell them, the next day we were attacked by Kamikazes and we lost 35 men on one ship.
“I recently met Prince Philip and said to him if it wasn't for men such as his uncle, Louis Mountbatten, we would have lost the war. I'm told there may be some of my ship’s company attending the day, it would be great if I could meet up with some of them after all these years.” Black cab driver and Taxi Charity committee member Dennis Hayes said: “The veterans who fought in the Far East and Pacific campaigns, in many cases, gave five years of their lives for our future. A lot of their comrades and mates never made it home either dying in battle, through disease or at the hands of the Japanese in their prison and forced labour camps. They all had a terrible time of it and became known as the Forgotten Army.
“When we think what these men and women went through for us, it is the least I can do to give up a few hours of time this Saturday to support them.”
Only licenced London taxi drivers can drive for the Taxi Charity and veterans take an active part throughout the year by collecting donations across the capital.
The Taxi Charity recently organised a trip to Holland to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of The Netherlands. The five-day trip, involving 80 London taxi drivers and 120 veterans, was funded by veterans' own fundraising at tube stations, plus donations from the National Lottery and the Royal British Legion.
The charity counts Dame Vera Lynn and Joanna Lumley among its patrons.
To donate to the Taxi Charity, please click here.
Rachel Jones Tel: 07825 568244