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WWII veteran who fought in Burma celebrates 101st birthday

Burma veteran Peter celebrating his 101st birthday at Royal Star & Garter

A WWII soldier who saw action in Burma (now Myanmar) has celebrated his 101st birthday at a Surbiton care home.


Peter Whiteley was joined by family on his special day, 14 June, at Royal Star & Garter, where he lives.


The Home provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia.

Peter celebrating his birthday with family at Royal Star & Garter

Peter served in Burma, and narrowly survived enemy attacks by Japanese troops. He was later awarded the Burma Star.


On his birthday, he was joined by his daughter Christine and other family members for a party at the Home.


Peter, who received cards and presents, said: “I had a lovey day celebrating with my family in the beautiful garden room.”

Peter in 1945

‘It was a special day’


Daughter Christine said: “We’re very grateful to the Home for doing this for Dad and our family. It was a special day.”


Peter was born in Burma in 1922. He returned to England as a child before joining the Army in 1940, aged 18,where he was commissioned into the Royal Engineers. His love of adventure and new challenges led him to training in India, where he built bridges and helped set and clear mines. During this time, he fell in love with India and would later live in the country.


He then returned to Burma, helping build a mule track during the monsoon and an arched bridge. Peter was part of the Battle of the Box – which provided a welcome victory against the Japanese after successive failures and retreats – and later survived a deadly assault by enemy troops, which claimed the lives of several men he was with.

Peter with this grandson Oliver, who shares his birthday with his grandfather

Peter attained the rank of Captain, and left the Army in 1946. He soon moved to India, where he lived until 1976, and then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where he stayed for a further 10 years. He returned to the UK following the death of his wife Edith.


Peter later remarried, and moved to Royal Star & Garter with his wife Colleen in 2019. She sadly died later that year.


Royal Star & Garter in Surbiton is welcoming new residents. For more information on this, or to work for the charity, go to

Fishing in Mysore, India, in 1956