THIS weekend the UK and Commonwealth countries have been commemorating the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, when Japan surrendered to the Allies and Emperor Hirohito ordered all his forces to lay down their arms and told his subjects the war was over and Japan had lost.

Many Scots were still involved in the fighting which took a few days to end, and of course some Japanese soldiers famously took to the hills and jungles rather than surrender. Intelligence officer Hiroo Onoda was the last to surrender, coming out of the Philippine jungle in 1974.

The Japanese capitulation ended the suffering of many prisoners of war including a Scottish woman doctor who had endured more than three-and-a-half long years in prison camps where conditions were almost unendurable. Fans of the BBC television series Tenko will know how women in these camps suffered and died. One of Scotland’s unsung war heroes knew just how accurate that television depiction was because Dr Margaret Thomson was a consultant on the famed series.

The courage of Dr Thomson, who was born in this week of 1902, is rarely mentioned these days but she truly was a heroic figure who was honoured by King George VI even while she was in the Japanese camps.

It often seems to me to be quite an appalling miss by our governments that more thanks and appreciation is not given to the surviving civilians who can remember the Second World War.

All are now in their eighties or older and many still endure the appalling nightmares they began to suffer during, for example, the Clydebank Blitz and the many other bombing raids inflicted by Nazi Germany on the Scottish mainland and on ships in Scottish waters. Not to mention the long-recalled heartache of losing close ones in a war that, for the first time, saw merciless wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians across the various theatres of war.

READ MORE: VJ Day: This is how Japan surrendered to save its emperor

One of those civilians who survived the war was Dr Thomson. Her extraordinary story should never be forgotten.

Margaret Henderson Thomson was born on August 20, 1902, at 30 Lomond Road, Trinity, then part of Greater Leith but now part of Edinburgh. She was one of six children and the third of four daughters of George Alexander Hunter (1861–1939), a bank secretary and solicitor, and his wife Margaret, née Robertson.

Margaret Hunter had a comfortable upbringing and attended the Edinburgh Ladies College, an independent school now known as The Mary Erskine School. She went from there to Edinburgh University to study medicine, graduating in 1926 alongside one of her sisters.

She became a GP in Lanarkshire where she met and married Daniel Thomson, a rubber planter and agricultural engineer by profession. The couple moved to a rubber plantation near Kuala Lumpur in what was then the Federated Malay States but which is now Malaysia, and Dr Thomson went to work in the local medical services.

When the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbour resulted in war between Japan and the USA and UK, the Japanese army rampaged through Malaya in December 1941 and January 1942.

Dr Thomson and her husband went to Singapore where the British forces and civilian refugees were gathering. After the British and Commonwealth forces were soundly beaten, Dr Thomson tended to the wounded who were brought to the city.

The last ship to leave Singapore before its surrender was the SS Kuala and Dr Thomson was on board, having been separated from her husband who was duly captured by the Japanese.

The Kuala was bombed at sea and sank, Dr Thomson being seriously wounded in the leg during the attack. The Japanese aircraft strafed the survivors in the water but she was rescued from the sea by Raymond Frazer of the RAF who got her into a lifeboat. There she cared for other wounded passengers using wreckage from the ship as makeshift splints, and then took part in an epic eight-hour row before the lifeboat was taken by Chinese fishermen to relative safety on Kebat and then Senajang islands.

There, despite her serious leg wound, she set about organising the medical care of the wounded and injured, carrying out several emergency operations.

READ MORE: Red Arrows meet Scottish veterans to mark 75 years since VJ Day

Her wounded thigh turned septic and she was taken by stretcher to Sinkep from where she left with other women survivors to try and evade the Japanese. She was captured in Sumatra, however, and imprisoned in the brutal Djambi jail and then an even more primitive prisoner of war camp at Irenelaan, where another Scottish inmate was Norah Chambers who organised a choir to maintain morale.

The guards refused to pass on Red Cross medical supplies and Dr Thomson had to endure the deaths of many of her patients in the camp.

News of her courage on board the Kuala had been passed back to London and in August 1943 she was awarded the MBE “for her resolution and disregard of self, her sacrifice and admirable courage”, as stated in her citation.

Unbeknown to Thomson, her husband had been captured and made to work on the infamous Burma railway. Both of them survived, however, and returned after the war to the rubber plantation where she set up a health clinic.

The Thomsons came back to Scotland in 1950 and set up what was described as an innovative farm near Huntly. Daniel Thomson died in 1971 and Margaret lived on at Huntly until her own death on June 16, 1982 at the age of 79.

Her story was mentioned in several books and she really did advise the BBC on Tenko, but she never enjoyed talking about her wartime experiences. She never once watched an episode of the series.

There is no great monument to Dr Margaret Thomson as far as I know, but then there are precious few memorials to the women and men like her who were civilians who made their own contribution to the war effort.

There are plenty of memorials to our Glorious Dead. Perhaps it is time for a national memorial to all those who also stood and served without wearing a military uniform or gaining medals for their undoubted bravery in the face of the enemy.