Griff Rhys Jones backs the Forgotten Allies cause


One of the most important inspirations for our Forgotten Allies project was a wonderful piece of filmmaking from one of Britain's national treasures - comedian, actor and writer Griff Rhys Jones. Back in 2013, Griff made a moving film exploring his father's wartime experience in Burma - Burma, my father and the forgotten army. Apart from a few fragmentary stories, Griff Rhys Jones's father never talked about his war. Yet as a medical officer to a West African division he travelled 15,000 miles from Wales to Ghana and the jungles of Burma. He and his men were part of an army of a million raised in Africa and Asia to fight the Japanese. To understand their story Griff travelled first to Ghana and then, accompanied by 90-year-old veteran Joshua, he went to jungles of Burma. It is known as the forgotten war, but Griff discovered how it transformed these West Africans from children of the British Empire into masters of their own destiny.

Griff continues to be a huge inspiration to the team here at Grammar, and we're delighted to announce that Griff's chosen to support the Forgotten Allies cause. He said:

This proposed film is a really worthwhile project and it needs your help. When I made my own documentary about my Dad I knew little more than that he had been a member of a West African regiment raised during the war. A few self-deprecating anecdotes and some reminiscences of affection for his orderlies and comrades were about all I had to go on. I was to learn so much more - especially from the veterans of that epic struggle.

This war in a distant country was fought alongside hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth troops, some of whom were transported half way across the world to fight in the jungle. It was a great victory. That’s what people felt and still feel. They were proud to serve. It was described as the forgotten army. But, numbering nearly a million by the end of the Burma campaign, it should have been difficult to forget.

More than that, it should be an extra disgrace to forget that it was men from Africa and India who gallantly and voluntarily gave so much to assist their colonial rulers. And yet that has been too true.

I am really happy to support any endeavour to make their story better known, in the name of my father and in the name of the many different races and origins who served with him.

But we can't finish this film without your help! Please consider supporting our crowdfunding campaign launched earlier this week on IndieGoGo - link here.

If you'd like to learn more about the history of WW2 in Burma, please join us for a special fundraising dinner in London in June - "Remembering WW2 in Burma". Tickets now available online here.