Joe Simpson backs the Forgotten Allies cause
Back in 2016, we were inspired when legendary British mountaineer and author Joe Simpson returned to Burma in a moving film for the BBC - Burma's Secret Jungle War. There he traced the WW2 footsteps of his father - Ian Simpson - an unsung war hero who served deep behind enemy lines with the Chindits. When we contacted Joe to tell him about our Forgotten Allies project, he said:
"My father, Lt. Col. I. L. Simpson, fought as a young Chindit officer in the second 'Longcloth' Chindit Campaign landing by glider in the jungle of northern Burma, getting separated from his company and fighting alongside Morris Force in the hills above Bhamo and Myitkyina. Of the 1,550 officers and men in that command only 25 men and 8 officers were fit to fight by the end of that gruelling campaign. They faced a vicious and brutal enemy and the most dreadful conditions to fight in. They were bravely supported by the local Kachin population, a people still treated brutally by the present Burmese government. The Chindits were a famous special force and I was immensely proud of my father's role in that huge conflict. Outside of their efforts an enormous campaign was being forced through with nearly a million men of British and the Commonwealth fighting in some of the biggest land battles of the war. Few people realise that the battles of Kohima and Imphal were comparable if not bigger that the one fought at El Alamein and yet so often they have been overlooked or simply forgotten. The Burma campaign was a great and courageous victory over a particularly brutal enemy under which both the civilian populations and the captured troops suffered severely. I am very proud to support the production of this film in the hope that their brave efforts are not forgotten."
We're delighted to have Joe's support. His historic trip to Burma wasn't the toughest trip he's undertaken - not even close.
In 1985, Simpson and climbing partner Simon Yates made a first-ascent of the previously unclimbed West Face of Siula Grande (6,344m) in the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes. On the descent, Simpson broke his right leg and during the subsequent self-rescue in a storm, the two became separated. His best-selling book about the Siula Grande ordeal, Touching the Void, has been translated into 23 languages and has sold almost two million copies worldwide. It was also the basis of the 2003 BAFTA winning film of the same name.