Shaw of the Chindits
Howard Shaw was born on the 24th July
1913 in Huddersfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
It is understood that as a young man Howard travelled
on his own to Canada, where he found work on farms and
in logging, before he eventually returned to England.
On the 12th February 1938 he married Constance Ruby Bugg,
formerly Nunn. Howards wife, who was known as Connie,
had a young son from her previous marriage to one Edward
On the 24th June 1940, Howard Shaw, who
by then lived at 5, Alexandra Street, Thurmaston, Leicestershire,
enlisted into the Leicestershire Regiment. It is believed
that Private, 4863443, Howard Shaw, served with the 2nd
Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment, with which he
arrived on the Burmese border, having travelled across
India, on the 24th January 1944. From September 1943 the
2nd battalion had been split into two columns, the 17th
and 71st, as part of the reorganisation for a second Chindit
operation against Japanese forces in Burma. Howard had
his photograph taken during this period, on the 7th December
1943. The 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment was a
part of the 16th Infantry Brigade, which also included:
1st Battalion, Welch Regiment; 1st Battalion, Sherwood
Foresters; 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment;
2nd Battalion, Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey); and
the 2nd Battalion, King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster).
On the 5th February 1944 operations commenced
for an incursion into Burma, the Second Chindit Expedition,
codenamed "Operation Thursday", had begun. Major-General
Orde Wingate, the creator of the Chindits, addressed the
officers and men of the 17th and 71st columns before they
set-off on operations on the 6th and 7th February, respectively.
The battalion's operations ended on the 2nd May 1944 when
the last troops of the battalion flew out of the area
It is likely that Howard Shaw transferred
out of the 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment at this
time, thereafter joining the 1st Battalion South Staffordshire
Regiment. Later, on the 13th November 1944, he joined
the Kings Regiment. The 1st Battalion Kings had also been
involved in "Operation Thursday", forming the
81st and 82nd Chindit columns in Burma. The battalion
converted to an airborne role, becoming the 15th (King's)
Parachute Battalion of the Parachute Regiment.
A photograph of Howard Shaw, with two
other soldiers and two native boys, holding a Japanese
battle flag, has on its reverse the written details that
the flag was taken from a dead Japanese soldier who was
killed in Bangkok in June 1945. Some elements of the 15th
(King's) Parachute Battalion of the Parachute Regiment
dropped into Thailand to assist those held in the POW
camps which had been run by the Japanese, but this did
not occur until the Japanese had surrendered. As the wording
on the back of the photograph, written by Howard, is in
the past tense, and almost certainly added at a later
date, it is assumed that his recollection of the date
of the shooting was inaccurate.
The writing on the same card shows that
by October 1945 Howard was in India, where he later sold
his Japanese flag to some American GI's.
Later, Howard returned to Thurmaston,
where he lived with Connie and her son, until such
time as they moved, during the 1960's, to Sudbury, Suffolk,
which was Connie's home county. Howard Shaw was
awarded service medals in recognition of his time with
the army. In later life he periodically suffered from
malaria, a remnant of his time spent in the Far-East.
Howard's life ended as the result of an
accident, he was knocked down while crossing a road in
Sudbury during November 1986. He died a few days later
at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, as the result of
head injuries he had sustained. His widow, Connie,
died during 2002. During the war she had been involved
in war work, making parts for aircraft production.