In 1940 Cecil Reid had just turned 18 and was living in Bramcote Street in Belfast and was a member of Young Men’s Christian Total Abstinence LOL No. 747.
In June of that year he enlisted in the Royal Air Force Regiment and in 1942 was deployed overseas. The RAF Regiment was tasked with guarding and defending airfields throughout various theatres of the war.
His regiment was sent to the Far East as part of Allied attempts to drive back the Japanese. He had an eventful voyage. After departing from Freetown his ship had engine trouble and was separated from the rest of the convey for 36 hours.
This was a very anxious time as they feared attack at any moment. “We were a sitting duck for over one and a half days.”
Cecil’s unit was to spend 18 months in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) before being sent to Hyderabad in India.
After two months of jungle training, they were deployed to Burma. He described the role they had to fulfil: “As soon as the army took an airfield we jumped onto it and held it. The first airfield we were at, a Wing Commander was shot in the middle of the runway and the Japs wouldn’t let anyone get near him. He lay there for three days. It was dodgy country.”
Cecil was also impact by another aspect of the War’s inhumanity, as he witnessed some of the first Allied prisoners to be released from Japanese Prisoner of War camps. He described some of them as looking like skeletons that could hardly stand upright.
At the end of the War, Bro. Reid was present when senior Japanese Officers and officials arrived to formally surrender their forces in Burma.