Hero never forgotten

I'M sure readers of the South China Morning Post will agree that it is never too late to ''honour the brave'', as in the case of the late William Kifford, who was the Bandmaster of the 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own), in Hongkong, in 1941.

The reason I feel prompted to write is that Bandmaster Kifford's son who lives in the UK, recently sent me a tape of military band music and it brought back memories of his brave father.

In December, 1941, I was a small 18-year-old drummer boy in the same regiment as Bandmaster Kifford and was caught up in the thick of battle in Wong Nai Chung Gap.

He was a great inspiration to me and his presence and behaviour were very comforting.

At one point, Bandmaster Kifford asked me ''How are you going Bellchambers?'' I replied, ''All right sir'', even though bullets, mortars, shells and the advancing Japanese Imperial Army were all around us.

Even though all this was happening, he found the time to ask after the well-being of this frightened teenager.

With the loss of Brigadier Lawson, commander of The Canadian Forces (the Winnipeg Fusiliers and the Royal Rifles of Canada), it fell to Bandmaster Kifford and a Canadian Warrant Officer to take over control of the soldiers at brigade headquarters and this they did in fine form, and with great courage.

Sadly, Bandmaster Kifford was killed in action, during the Battle of Wong Nai Chung Gap, on Hongkong Island, on December, 19, 1941.

I was an impressionable young man and he was a fine example to me.

Even though this happened 51 years ago, I have never forgotten what happened. None of us should ever forget.

E. CHARLES BELLCHAMBERS (Ex-PoW of the Japanese, 1941-1945) Monterey, New South Wales Australia