Major Bill Haynes. RIP.

Discussion in 'Memorials & Cemeteries' started by CXX, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. CXX

    CXX New Member

    Major Bill Haynes, who has died aged 90, won a Military Medal in fierce fighting in the Burma Campaign.

    In June 1944, Haynes, then a corporal, was serving with the 1st Battalion the Lancashire Fusiliers, part of 77 Indian Infantry Brigade. The brigade, commanded by Brigadier "Mad" Mike Calvert, was a Chindit force supplied by air and trained to strike against enemy rail, road and river systems from fortified bases deep behind the Japanese lines.

    Haynes had already seen some ferocious fighting in the Mogaung Valley when the brigade was ordered to capture the town of Mogaung. Intelligence indicated that about 4,000 Japanese were dug in there.

    The long approach march in great heat took a toll. The monsoon had broken, and malaria and typhus had reduced the fighting strength of the brigade to a fraction of its full complement.

    On June 6, during an attack on the courthouse, Haynes's platoon was held up when its commander was wounded by enemy fire. He took command and manoeuvred one section so that it could return fire; then, under this covering fire, crept forward with his own section until he was within assaulting distance.

    Haynes then led a bayonet charge on to the enemy position and seized it. He and his men killed five Japanese, but his platoon was much depleted by heat exhaustion, and he himself had been wounded.

    He refused to be evacuated until the defences were in place and the position consolidated. On admission to hospital, he again refused to be evacuated by light aircraft, returning to the battalion in time to take part in further operations. He was awarded a Military Medal.

    William Harold Haynes was born on December 10 1918 at Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire. His father died when Bill was only nine and, one of four children, he left school aged 14. To support his mother, he worked as a bellboy in a smart hotel and, on his days off, would cycle all over the Lake District as a way of escaping the poverty at home.

    In 1939 he enlisted in the Border Regiment, and four years later transferred to the Lancashire Fusiliers. He accompanied the 1st Battalion to Burma later in 1943. At the end of the campaign there were not enough planes to airlift all the troops from the jungle, and he had to lead his men, who were in a very weakened state, back to India.

    He was commissioned in 1945 and, after returning to the Border Regiment for a spell, served in the REME in Malta, Cyprus and in Britain. He retired from the Army in the 1960s and worked as a manager for a pharmaceutical company until 1981.

    Settled in Dorset, he lectured on the Burma Campaign and also travelled widely.

    Bill Haynes died on September 27. He married, in 1946, Elizabeth McDiarmid, who survives him with their son and daughter.

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