Dick Channer was a Second World War veteran who fought against the Japanese at the battle of Imphal in Nagaland, northeast India, but who sought reconciliation with the Japanese after the war. Aged 22, he was in charge of a gun position of four 25-pounder guns, defeating the Japanese at Lone Tree Hill in the jungle. A decisive battle, this helped to halt the advance of Japanese forces into India. He was wounded and had to be stretchered out. He was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery, the citation signed by Field Marshall Slim.
After the war he worked with MRA/Initiatives of Change, in order to build the peace, welcoming Japanese to the MRA centre in Caux, Switzerland, in the post-war years. He declared that "the last battle is to turn the enemy into a friend." One Japanese friend who visited Caux was General Ichiji Sugita who became the head of the Japanese Ground Self Defence Force. Channer made five visits to Japan, including being one of 30 British veterans of the Burma Campaign Fellowship Group. They were graciously welcomed by their Japanese counterparts.
He married actress Christine Nowell in 1952 (one daughter, Alison) and they travelled with MRA's theatre productions. This included the play The Tiger, written by young Japanese, which they performed to an audience of 90,000 people in Manaus, Brazil, in 1960. He and Christine played husband and wife in the industrial drama The Forgotten Factor which toured India in 1978. The Indian prime minister, Morarji Desai, saw it in New Delhi. They returned to Nagaland in 2013 where they were welcomed by General Manoj Naravane of the Indian Army. Channer took the salute at the war cemetery in Kohima. He died in London in January 2021, aged 99, on the day before their 67th wedding anniversary.
See below for a link to the obituary in the Times, and tributes by friends and family.
Editors note: There is also an interview with Dick by the British Imperial War Museums' oral history project: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80018703