Holbeach man’s WW2 exploits in Far East

Alan Barkes (2nd right on back row) with his squadron.
Alan Barkes (2nd right on back row) with his squadron.
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Nothing could have prepared the young Alan Barkes for jungle warfare.

After only a three-week “tough course” Alan, from Sleaford, and his fellow recruits set sail for India, and further training to prepare them for fighting in swamps and jungles.

Initially, they were sent into Burma with 2846 Squadron, fighting the Japanese in the jungle and a different kind of enemy when they crossed through rivers, their rifles held above their heads – leeches.

When volunteers were requested for a special operational unit – 2810 (Parachute) Squadron – about 20 men put their names forward, including Alan and his friend Norman Hunt.

A short parachute course followed to prepare them for jumping from a static line in a Dakota straight into the jungle where the unseen enemy lay in wait.

It was at that stage the men learned the Americans had dropped the atomic bomb on two Japanese cities, bringing about the end of the war.

Alan eventually sailed home to his first wife Mable and a four-year-old son, Desmond, who didn’t know his father, on June 6, 1946.