Lt. William George Hales
William George Hales (1914
..........fought with the 8th Belfast
Regiment throughout the campaign in Burma ending up as Captain and
Adjutant under Colonel Cunningham, an extract from a letter he wrote
in 1981 states "at the beginning of the 39-45 war I was in a
strictly reserved occupation but as soon as I was able to be
released from that I joined the Army under a TA engagement in 1940.
On my second day of joining I was informed I had been selected to
take a Commission which in fact I was granted shortly afterwards.
I spent the whole of my commissioned service with one Regiment ...
8th (Belfast) HAA (SR) ... until my discharge in 1946, going
through various stages of a Gunnery officer, BHQ Subaltern, Asst.
Adjutant, and then for a long period Adjutant. Towards the end
of the war I had several opportunities of promotion with a view to a
Regular engagement and was also selected for Staff College, Quetta,
(Bill) and his son Robin have maintained his collection of items from
the war, among the many items are Williams medals, buttons and insignia,
Robin has very kindly sent them to me so I could scan them and put them
on the site with all the other 8ths men's memorabilia I will then find a
good home for all these items, front runner is N.I. War Museum but I'm
investigating all possibilities at the minute, I'll update asap - Mary
inside William (Bills) wallet is a lucky horse
shoe, a Cunard White Star badge and a Bridge Card
also a Traffic Accident Report sheet, the
following photos were also in the wallet...
Typical propaganda leaflet dropped by
Japanese aircraft on our Forces in Burma
22nd Battery 8th (Belfast) HAA
Memorial Service at Akyab see
GIANT HOWITZERS POUND JAPS IN BURMA
"Auntie and Uncle", giant 7.2 inch howitzers -
the biggest guns in Burma - are pounding the Japanese as they are being
driven from the Arakan by troops of 15th Indian Corps, says a report
from Advance H.Q. ALFSEA
The heavies hurl a 205lb. shell - twice the size of a
cruiser's - 10 miles. Five rounds from these guns, worthy successors to
other famous Burma guns, "George and Margaret" and "Gert and Daisy", are
enough to wipe out the average Japanese - occupied village.
The Japanese have made repeated efforts to shell the
guns - crewed by men of the 8th Belfast Heavy A.A. Regiment - without
(Front page of the "Statesman" of 6th
Click to enlarge
Calculations or Corrections
Line of Bomb Release
for Abnormal Conditions
THE CHERRY STRIPES
"ALL AT SEA"
On Board "Brittanic" (Trooping). May 1942
en route for Burma (4500 on board)
The Sherwood Foresters Dance Band
Directed by Cpl. Hilton
2. Tenor Songs
3. Yorkshire Comedian
4. "The Disorderly Room"
(written by me
5. "Impersonating the Stars"
6. "Always Joking"
7. "The Doctor's Story"
8. Sing with the Band
"Just a Little Crazy"
Wilson and Green
10. The Dagger scene from
11. "Spit and Polish"
The Incompatible Pair
12. "Two Hands and a Piano"
13. "The Sick Parade"
(written by me -
14. "The White Coon"
15. "Nuff Said"
Sgt. Stocks and Cpl. Wade
Band and Full Company
In charge of entertainment 2/Lt. W. G.
List of approximate weights of articles
of personal baggage
Water bucket & Stand
Belt, Sam Browne
Shaving Kit case
* Plus Straps
The above list of weights is forwarded
for information and guidance. Oldham 23/12/41
AS. 2/Lieut. R.A. 8th (Belfast) Hy A.A. Regt. R.A. Signature
looks like S. E. Wright could be
Sidney Ernest Wright
Officers acting in aid of the civil power
Prevention of Malaria on Field Service
for dispersal of unlawful assemblies
Calculation of Corrections for Abnormal
for abnormal conditions
Appendix "A" to be carried by all drivers of W.D. Vehicles
steamer, sister of the one I travelled on, passing us
Native craft disembarking (?) passengers
can't make out writing
pea-shooters, planes, Jap, for the extermination of (They talk that way
in the British Army)
The trees are all bamboos & coconut palms
outside my tent. India Sept. 1942
Some of my lads in a Zulu? village S.
Believe it or not by
"Officers at Work"
n.b. 1. Jackets off
2. Sleeves rolled up
Please preserve for display by museums
The Signpost of Hope
(its says London 6372 miles)
This is the gate we entered by
carrying loads on their heads, even little girls (India)
Bills Field Message Book
with original pencil
CLICK to enlarge images
BELFAST A.A. MEN CLEAR
Ulster men of the 8th Belfast Heavy Anti-Aircraft
Regiment, who, in the early days of the war, manned
their guns in defence of the city, are today firing at
Japanese troops on the Arakan front at point-blank
With the Japanese airmen almost driven from Burma's
skies, these Belfast gunners fire mostly at enemy ground
Less than a week before I met these men, writes a 14th
Army Observer, one battery of the regiment had fired on
about 100 of the enemy across open paddy fields near the
Mayu River. Before the enemy were able to take cover 40
Japanese were lying dead, dying or wounded.
Another battery recently fired at an enemy 150 mm. gun
position south-west of Buthidaung. When the infantry
reached the enemy position they found 17 dead Japanese
sprawled around their gun which had been destroyed by a
The Regiment has taken part in many actions in Burma
since late 1942.
The Regiment was raised in April 1939, mobilised in
August and defended the skies over Belfast until
October. First Christmas of the war was spent at
Le Havre. Later they moved forward. One
battery, overrun by the Germans, made its way back to
Dunkirk; two others took part in the defence of Calais.
2/Lieut. W. G. Hales,
Dear Hales, Before we
leave the ship I should very much like to express my
personal thanks to you for your help and loyal support
in getting things running so smoothly and keeping them
going whilst I was O.C. Troops.
With every good wish
for the future.
C. B. Cochrane has
better look out !
Again, "Thank you"
Bombay Port Trust Docks 27.7.42
124th O.C.T. Unit R.A. (A.A.)
The Members of No. 15 Troop, "Z" Battery request the
pleasure of the company of ___ to Dinner at The Golf
Club House, on Saturday, May 3rd, 1941, at 7.15 p.m.
R.S.V.P. to Cadet O'Neill, "15" Troop, "Z" Battery,
Life Member Royal Artillery Association. Capt. W.
G. Hales, R.A. was admitted as a life member of the
association on 28th March 1946 Colonel (late RA)
Secretary R.A. Association. Holders' Signature
"The Staff" India
Thomas and myself, S. Africa (W. G. Hales Thomas Ball)
Royal Regiment of Artillery Museum,
Royal Military Academy,
Woolwich. SE 18.
Over the Easter period I was the guest of my daughter
(ex-Queen Alexandra (Army) Nursing and son-in-law (RAMC)
at Woolwich. I tool the opportunity of spending
some time in your Museum and also at the "Rotunda"
nearby. I thought both of them splendidly
presented and look forward to another visit to both.
Also I was made very welcome by the Staff who were most
informative. I am in any case a life-long keen
historian so apart from my peculiar interest enjoyed a
feast. I write not merely to express my thanks but
to suggest you have more "history" in one detail than
you may/perhaps be aware of.
At the beginning of the 39-45 War I was in a (strictly)
reserved occupation but as soon as I was able to be
released from that I joined the Army under a TA
engagement in 1940. On my second day of joining I
was informed I had been selected to take a Commission
which in fact I was granted shortly afterwards. I
spent the whole of my commissioned service with one
Regiment .. 8th (Belfast) HAA (SR) .. until my discharge
in 1946, going through various stages of a Gunnery
officer, BHQ Subaltern, Asst. Adjutant, and then for a
long period Adjutant. In my school days I had had
3 years in OTC (nominally, RE). Towards the end of
the War I had several opportunities of promotion with a
view to a Regular engagement and was also selected for
Staff College, Quetta, but declined. Now to the
point. You have in the Far East War display 2
shots of my Regiment. (continues below)
You may have observed that the piece has been stripped
of its loading ?ay and ramming equipment. In fact
a Gun number is in the act of loading AND ramming (by
hand) having placed the round in the breech himself
directly. He would then move round and hit the firing
handle himself. Tell it not in "High Quarters" but we
had rewritten the Drill Book regimentally. By so doing
we reduced the Drill Time from about 7-8 secs. to 4½
secs. The former was pretty good but, as you see, we
were able to put up something like twice the number of
rounds than previously. Regardless of what number of men
were available to man, every man other than the No. 1
and the layers, became an all-purpose Number, ie.,
removed his own round from the ammn. rack, inserted it
in the Fuze Setter, put it straight in to the breech,
rammed it with his first, fired the gun. So, there
was a constantly moving circular procession with the
increased rate of fire shown. In the picture we are
obviously firing a "Field" tank .. things look pretty
leisurely (by comparison with a AA engagement) .. indeed
the fuze is being hand-set by a separate Number in this
case .. probably like (say) 24 intermittent rounds in
the GPO's own time. We were always "Army Troops" so
never under command of any lower formation. After the
first Burma re-entry campaign we were increasingly used
in the Field role. The top Formation anywhere there,
going back into the Arakan on the first campaign of
re-entry, of whom we were "in support" was, believe me,
an Infantry Brigade (44th), such was the small beginning
in terms of strength to regain Burma. Needless to say,
(and with respect), if the Brigadier appeared, our 3.7's
hastily assumed their normal appearance!! The "new
drill" evolved in the 2nd and 3rd Arakan campaigns. The
"Field role" leads me to the other picture you have on
display of my Regiment .. the 7.2 Hows. .. There were in
fact only ever 2 of these throughout the Burma
campaigns. Much to the chagrin of the true "Field" men
and in particular the 5.5 boys, these were given to the
8th (Belfast). You indeed make some suggestion of this
arrangement in your picture caption.
I have told you the whole story. I hope I have
not bored you. I assure you my version is
authentic. The experience was often hair-raising,
but I would not have missed it. I think I must
have been a true "Gunner" at heart from birth. I
look forward to re-visiting you.
Yours truly, (W. G.
Hales. (186643) Capt. RA.)
FROM: Brigadier R. J.
Royal Artillery Institution,
Old Royal Military Academy,
Woolwich, London, SE18 4JJ
Thank you for your interesting letter of 11 May 1981
apropos the activities within 8 (Belfast) HAA Regt. RA
in Burma in World War 2.
Your anecdotes are valuable additions to our archives.
sincerely, R. Lewendon
Secretary (Historical) Royal Artillery Institution
Royal Artillery Association
Life Membership Certificate
This is to certify that Capt.
W. G. Hales, R.A. was admitted as a Life Member of the
Association on 28th March 1946. Colonel (late RA)
Secretary Royal Artillery Association (can't make out
The Royal Artillery Association
TO ALL 'Z' RESERVISTS OF 463
(MIXED) H.A.A. REGIMENT R.A. (DURHAM) T.A.
Regiment leaves Sunderland on Saturday 21st July 1951 on
a Special Train with Timings as shown below, Depart
Sunderland 21dt July 1951, Arrive York, Depart York,
Arrive Towyn 22nd July 1951
If you can join this Train either at Sunderland or York
it will save you a lot of inconvenience because it is a
Should you be unable to join this train you must make
sure that you catch the following connections on Sunday
22nd July 1951.
Depart Crewe, Arrive Shrewsbury, Depart Shrewsbury,
Adjutant 463 (M) HAA Regt. R.A. (D) T.A. Capt. R.A.
(can't make out signature)
Please note that the address of Annual Practice Camp
MORFA CAMP and NOT TONFANAU
Stores, Plant, Tools, Instruments, etc.
Issued to Requisitioned by O C
P Bty. 463
From Pool Store Date 4.8.52
Swedish Mirror 1