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Chindit - Howard Shaw

The 1939-1945 Star

The medal entitlement of Howard Shaw - The 1939-1945 Star, Burma Star, and British War Medal.

Howard Shaw, top right, with other Leicestershire Regiment soldiers and a Burmese Tribesman, around January 1944.

Howard Shaw, centre, with captured Japanese Battle Flag, 1945.

Howard 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. Howard’s wife, who was known as Connie, had a young son from her previous marriage to one Edward Bugg.

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 via Imphal.

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.

Acknowledgement: With grateful thanks to John M. Nunn, nephew of Howard Shaw.

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