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Ronald Cavendish

by derbycsv

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Ronald Cavendish
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Burmese Arakan peninsular
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09 August 2005

In early April 1943, the 6th Infantry Brigade was strung out north and south of the Brigade Headquarters in the Burmese Arakan peninsular when the Japanese attacked across the Mayu Ridge. With his village headquarters about to be overrun, Brigadier Cavendish issued two significant orders. His young and agile staff (at 47 he was neither) were to evacuate the area and make their escape as best they could; thereafter, the area was to be regarded as hostile territory and the commander of the artillery regiment nearby was to “blast anything that moved without question”. The Japanese were jubilant to capture a brigadier. News was flashed to Tokyo and Tokyo Rose announced it over the air, but the triumph was to be short-lived. Next morning, 6th April, Ronald Cavendish accompanied his unwitting captors onto the village square, he alone knowing what was to come. The British Artillery carried out their orders and shelled them. Back at their home in Middleton, Mrs Cavendish was told that her husband was missing, but she knew in her heart he was dead. Two and a half years later, before he died by his Bushido code, the Japanese general described him as “a very brave and admirable gentleman”. Nowadays, after 60 peaceful years, the accolade ‘hero’ is awarded for mere sporting achievement. Ronald Cavendish was a real hero in two world wars; but his life and exploits still await the biography they deserve.

This story was donated by Andrew McCloy and Norman Wilson and was submitted to the site by Alison Tebbutt, Derby CSV Action Desk. The author has given his permission and fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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