Major Robert Barbour Cameron HLI 28/07/1920 - 11/07/2014
Robert Barbour Cameron enlisted into the Highland Light Infantry at Glasgow University Officer Training Corps on the 18th of September 1939. He was subsequently commissioned into the Highland Light Infantry (2nd Bn. Glasgow Highlanders).
Robert's wartime service was spent as an officer in the 12th Frontier Force Regiment, a regiment comprised of British and Empire troops, serving in India and Burma. The 12th Frontier Force Regiment was part of General Slim's 14th Army, the so-called "forgotten army". This unfortunate moniker was due largely to the lack of contemporary press interest in the Burma campaign. So much so that General Slim is said to have told his troops…
"When you go home don't worry about what to tell your loved ones and friends about service in Asia. No one will know where you were, or where it is if you do. You are, and will remain "The Forgotten Army."
Indian officers of the 12th Frontier Force Regiment. Photo Robert Cameron.
Forgotten or not, the 14th Army and the 12th Frontier Force Regiment with them, fought a fierce campaign against a determined Japanese enemy, in the most unforgiving jungle terrain. Robert was twice wounded in action, but thankfully not seriously enough to take him out of the combat zone. He suffered, as most Jungle soldiers did, more from the effects of malaria and dysentery, than from enemy gunfire.
Robert survived the jungles of Burma, reaching the rank of Major, before returning to civilian life in 1946. His two brothers also survived the war, One of them also having served in the South East Asia Command (SEAC) area, while the other spent five years as a POW in Germany. His sister also served in the army for a time during the war. In later years Robert moved to Queensland, Australia, and lived a long and happy life, passing away last year just 17 days short of his 94th birthday.
Robert, like so many of his Burma campaign comrades, did not care to talk about his wartime experiences; only reluctantly putting down a few details on record in recent times, at the suggestion of his son-in-law, Wayne Gray, to whom we owe this opportunity to commemorate this gallant HLI officer.
Memorabilia of Robert Cameron's service in Burma.
Courtesy of Mr Wayne Gray. Queensland, Australia.
In his own words Robert says…
"Most of my age group wanted to forget the filth of war, the heartbreak for parents. Most wanted no more. Certainly no praise; only one word… Peace."
On Remembrance Sunday and on VJ Day, when we commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we should also stop to remember those who came home too. Many of them bearing scars that the passage of time might help to fade, but that decades could not erase.
The War Cemetery in Kohima bears the famous inscription "When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"