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- Reginald Albert Frank Light
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- 19 September 2004
This is a short account of my father's service record in WW2 leading up to the time he was shot and found by Americans in Burma.
Reg was called up in 1942 and trained with the 10th Royal Berkshire Regiment on the Suffolk Coast. He volunteered for the tank regiment and joined the 160th Regiment Armoured Corp (Black Berets) .
At the dead of night they sailed to join other ships in mid-Atlantic and sailed to either San Salvador or Bahia (their escort ships were Rodney and Nelson which were both sunk). They stayed for 4 days before sailing to Durban and then did a short run to beat U-boats across the Indian ocean to bombay. they were 2 years in bombay before going on to Burma.
Reg's regiment were booked to join the 8th Army in the desert but by the time they arrived Monty had defeated the Germans (Afrika corps) so they were not needed and were sent to the Far East to help the 14th army push the Japs out of burma. They were the south east asia commend under Mountbatten and General Slim (in ghandis time). The barracks were in Nazami (?) state. By the time the troops were ready for combat the japs had broken through the line at Inpal Plains so they were rushed in to hold the line. They were called the 36th Division, commanded by General Festing (?) and were one of the only 2 british divisions in burma. After the japs were stopped, Monty sent them to North Burma in Dakotas. They went to the Wale division. they landed at Mystlayina (?) on the strip captured by Merrells Marauders and made camp near Lede Road. Vera Lyn came to sing for them and bob Hope visited the Americans with Betty Grable and Jane russell. Food was dropped by air and the parachutes were made of silk, so they used the silk and made sweat scarves.
When they started to advance in the jungle they were allowed to grow beards as no time to shave. they captured many villages but no Japs, they had to be blasted out. The Japs fought to the end. Before they got to Mandalay, Reg was wounded - shot through the stomache (the bullet went right through and out the other side. An American field unit patched him up and actually saved his life. Reg's picture was on the front page of the Daily Mirror with the Americans holding him up, but the jounalist who wrote the article printed someone else's name. We still have the picture and would like to tell the Daily Mirror of their mistake.
Reg was then flown out to Assam Hospital to recover. After Assam Reg was taken back to India to Secumderabad Hospital where he stayed for one year recovering, and he had 8 relapses of malaria. After that year he joined the unit again in India and they wer to invade Malaya. But when they landed the Atom Bomb had been dropped in Hiroshima and the japs surrendered. So his unit was sent to penang and billeted in a Planters bugalow. they rounded up the japs and made them work for them. They knocked down their pill boxes and bunkers. And the General made them bow and surrender at his feet. Reg always said he had good and bad times during the war but would not have missed being there.
Regretably, the war took its toll on Reg and during his latter years he became very depressed which was in part due to his war years and the sights he had to witness and things he had to endure. Reg died on 8th November 1983 of a heart attack. After his death, we were able to obtain his Burma Star medal for me but unfortunately, Reg never had this during his lifetime.
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