THE British government owes a debt of gratitude to all those who served during the World War II, says British High Commissioner to Fiji Melanie Hopkins.
She highlighted this during the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Victory in Europe held at the United States ambassador’s residence in Suva on Friday.
“I want to bring the story back to Fiji too, almost everyone in Fiji knows someone who is in or someone who has been in the British Army, it’s such an important part of the UK’s relationship with Fiji,” she said.
“Along the headlines there are countless stories of enormous sacrifices and bravery. “One such story concerns Sergeant Isikeli Doviverata Komaisavai, commonly known as Ratu Dovi.”
The late Ratu Dovi was a Fijian fighter pilot who served in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
She said he was Fiji’s forgotten World War II fighter pilot who belonged to the 234 squadron.
“Ratu Dovi was born in Tailevu and was the son of Ratu Savenaca Komaisavai and Adi Miriama Komaisavai.
“When the World War II broke out, he returned to Fiji from his studies in New Zealand.
“His uncle, Ratu Lala Sukuna was recruiting Fijians to fight in the Commonwealth against the Nazis so Ratu Dovi volunteered and was accepted into the Royal Air Force in 1941.”
She said according to official RAF accounts, Ratu Dovi used a spitfire VB to conduct a sweep in the northern part of France where he could catch German bombers.
“In 1943 he moved to the Orkney Islands and then the records become blurred and then he became ill with a lung disease called Pleurisy in 1944 and found himself hospitalised.
“Towards the end of the year, his condition became worsened and Ratu Dovi died on October 19, 1944.
“We thank you for your service Ratu Dovi and we thank all the men and women of all countries who have worked so hard to uphold our peace.”
Also speaking at the event, Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said during his term as ambassador to London, he met some of those who served with Ratu Dovi during World War II.
“They described him as a jovial and one of the ‘sunniest’ people they have ever met,” Ratu Epeli said.
“Our connections grow deeper and that’s why I am very grateful to the British High Commissioner for mentioning him.
“He is very well known in the family but not well known in the Fiji context because he had died during the war and he contributed immensely.”
US ambassador Joseph Cella also commemorated the lives of those who were on the assembly lines during the war as a tribute to Mother’s Day.