The history of the Burma Star Association
The Burma Star Association was officially founded on the 26 February 1951 with 2000 founder members. The rules of the Association were drawn up by Lord Louis Mountbatten and Field Marshal Lord Slim. The broad aims of the Association are to promote the comradeship experienced in the bitter fighting in the jungles of Burma, and also to set up a welfare organisation so that members and widows in need can be given poverty assistance in times of ill-health or other debilitating circumstances.
The Burma Star Association is Tri-Service and is strictly non-political and non-sectarian, with permanent representatives from the Royal Navy, Army Royal Air Force and Royal British Legion on the National Council. To become a full member of the Association, an ex-Serviceman, ex-Servicewoman or Nurse must have been awarded the Burma Campaign Star for service in Burma during World War II for the necessary qualifying period or the Pacific Star with Burma Clasp. The badge of the Association which is worn in the lapel or in the regulation green beret incorporates a replica of the Burma Campaign Star, and permission to take advantage of this singular honour was supported by His Majesty King George VI in consultation with Earl Mountbatten and Field Marshal Lord Slim, and this badge and title were accepted by the College of Heralds. This fact recognises the rigorous nature of climate, topography and the extremely debilitating conditions in which to wage a successful campaign against a determined and fanatical enemy, thus making this Association unique among post war ex- Service Associations.
The first Remembrance Parade, which was organised by the South West London Branch, took place on Horse Guards Parade in London on 12 October 1958 and has continued with great support ever since, including a Parade on Horse Guards followed by a Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph. The first President of the Association was Field Marshal Lord Slim (Uncle Bill), who held the position until his death on 14 December 1970. His son Viscount John Slim took over from his father and happily he is still with us as the National President. Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma was the Association’s first Patron, and he held this position until he was tragically killed on 27 August 1979. He was succeeded by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, and Countess Mountbatten of Burma, wife of Lord Braboume and lord Louis Mountbatten’s eldest daughter became the Vice Patron. In 2000 the Association’s Benevolent Fund helped over 1000 persons from all over the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Assistance took many forms: respite care; holidays at the sea-side; elderly and infirm veterans had telephones and ‘life-lines’ installed in their homes. Removal expenses were paid, powered wheelchairs supplied to the disabled, and an inability to handle personal accounts was overcome by payment of debts and financial advice given, together with the provision of specialist medical and domestic equipment.
These are just some of the ways in which the Association Benevolent Fund operates. An important section details entirely with claims for War Pensions. All these costs increase annually and as more and more members suffer from sickness due to old age, so the demands on the Benevolent Fund increase in the same ratio.