Burma Star veteran makes his final salute

proud: Jack Hughes was chairman of the Preston branch of Burma Star Association PHOTO: NEIL CROSS
proud: Jack Hughes was chairman of the Preston branch of Burma Star Association PHOTO: NEIL CROSS
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Tributes have been paid to one of the area’s last Burma Star veterans, who has died at the age of 86.

Great-grandfather Jack Hughes was a Royal Navy gunner who spent three years at sea during the Second World War.

He was just 18 when he was conscripted in 1943, before being sent to Burma the following year.

The Japanese invasion of Burma in 1941 began what would be the longest land campaign of the entire war for Britain, with the fighting lasting until Japan surrendered in 1945.

Jack, of Walton-le-Dale, served on board three different ships, HMS Stalker, HMS Hunter, HMS Attacker, which escorted convoys of troops around the Pacific.

On land, he also had to defend Rangoon Airport, which the Japanese attacked a number of times.

The Evening Post told Jack’s story in a special feature for Armistice Day last year.

He was chairman and standard bearer of the Preston Burma Star Association and still held a poignant weekly meeting at the Methodist church in Lune Street, Preston, to commemorate his comrades, despite being the only survivor able to attend in person.

The association used to be about 25-strong but many of the veterans have passed away or are too poorly to go.

Jack’s daughter Wendy Fisher said her dad did not talk in great detail to his family about his wartime experiences, but they knew how patriotic he was.

Wendy, 54, of Fulwood, said: “He was just such a proud, patriotic and caring man.

“No-one had a bad word to say about him.

“A lot of people will miss him.”

Jack worked as a machinist at Leyland Motors for many years after the end of the war.

He had grown up in the Chorley area but moved to Walton-le-Dale when he married his wife Muriel in February 1952.

The couple had three children, Graham, Wendy and Lynne.

Jack helped out with Cadet groups in Strand Road, Preston, and was a drum major with Hoggarth’s Band.

His funeral will take place at St Aidan’s Church in Bamber Bridge at 2pm on March 29.