Malaysia's last WWII veteran passes away at the age of 97


GEORGE TOWN: James Jeremiah, the last surviving World War II veteran from the Eurasian ‘E’ Company of the Allied Forces, breathed his last on Thursday. He was 97.

His son, Gary, 60, said James died in his sleep at 4pm at his house in Chee Seng Garden, Tanjung Bungah.

"He was a firm believer in the old school of discipline.

"He was a very traditional type of person who rarely showed his affection but deep inside, we knew he was a caring and loving father," he said.

James was the last surviving WWII veteran of the Eurasian "E" company of Penang, a volunteer force similar to the British Home Guard.

The Malayan Campaign was fought between Allied and Axis forces from Dec 8, 1941 to Jan 31, 1942. It began with Japanese troops landing in Kota Baru and invading Malaya on bicycles.

It was a disaster for the British, Indian, Australian and Malayan forces defending the colony, with 138,708 casualties among the Allied troops compared to 9,800 Japanese casualties.

In 2017, James was invited to attend the commemorative service at the Cheras Road War Cemetery, which is the final resting place of 156 Commonwealth servicemen, along with other servicemen and their dependents not involved in WWII.

The High Commissioners of Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, representatives of the Malaysian Armed Forces and veterans groups laid wreaths at the cemetery to honour the fallen then.

Over the years, James would always be the first to lay a wreath for the fallen heroes during the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in Esplanade, Penang.

Gary said his father was also a romantic person who still kept the letters he received from his late wife.

"He always shared with us his love story with my mother, and how they met.

"He still kept all the letters he got from my mother.

"He went through a lot when he lost my mum and our youngest sister, who was in a vegetative state for 31 years before she passed away in 2013," said Gary.

Gary said his father was also an active member of party Gerakan, who used to serve in the then Tanjung Bungah Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) for over 20 years.

"He even received a letter of appreciation from the first Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee.

"My father was also conferred the Pingat Kelakuan Terpuji (PKT) and Pingat Jasa Kebaktian (PJK) medals," he said.

Besides Gary, James leaves behind three other children - Joyce, Richard and James, and seven grandchildren.

His cortège will leave the residence at 10am tomorrow (July 2) for a funeral service at the Church of the Immaculate Inception in Pulau Tikus.

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