The World War Two Veterans who remember VE Day for very different reasons

WW2 Veterans talk about VE Day 75 Credit: ITV News

By Kris Jepson

On the eve of the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day or VE Day, two veterans from the ITV News Tyne Tees region have shared their very different experiences of the 8 May 1945.

Private Ken Cooke, 94, from York, of 7th Battalion The Green Howards, is a D-Day veteran and fought in battles across France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. He said "the youngsters of today have got to remember it, just in case it happens again".

Bombardier Len Gibson, 100, from Sunderland, of 125 Anti-Tank Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery, served in the Far East and became a prisoner of war after just 10 days of fighting in Singapore.

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Private Ken Cooke landed on Gold Beach in Normandy on the 6 June 1944. He told ITV News he feels "very lucky" to have survived D-Day.

Pte Ken Cooke Credit: Family photo

Mr Cooke was sent back to a hospital in England after being injured by shrapnel from a bomb.

He said "When I woke up I was back in bed with a plaster cast from here to here, with my arm like that, because I got wounded in the back here. They came and cut the plaster off and the doctor said another three quarter of an inch either way, I would have lost my arm."

Shortly after recovering from his injuries he was sent back to mainland Europe and after fighting battles in Belgium and the Netherlands, he ended up in Bremen, Germany.

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It was here he suffered shell shock and was sent back home again. Once recovered he was demobbed after a doctor told him he should never have returned to the war. He spent VE Day in York city centre.

Bdr Len Gibson Credit: ITV News

Whilst millions of Britons celebrated VE Day, the "forgotten army" still at war in the Far East.

Bombardier Len Gibson's regiment were heading for North Africa, but following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, they were diverted to East Asia.

He told ITV News how he was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese Army in Singapore, after fighting for just 10 days following his ship being bombed and being forced to swim to shore.

Bdr Len Gibson Credit: Family photo

Mr Gibson said they were badly treated by the "bully" Japanese army.

He was forced to work on the infamous Burma railway, the "Death Railway", before being sent to Mergui Road.

Starving and wearing only a rag around his waist, he had to do hard labour in the jungle in bare feet for two years, as the men created a route for the Japanese Army.