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8th Belfast H.A.A. Regt.

aka   'The Twelve Mile Snipers'
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The Men

Sergeant William Adrain - Diary and Biography

D. J. Bailie - War Diary and Photographs

Colonel Wm. N. Brann

Sgt. Thomas Herbert Coulter (Herbie)

Jimmy Cunningham's Private Army Comes Home

L/Sgt. Bertie Goodwin

Gunner Harry Grist

2/Lt. William George Hales

Gunner Herbert Hanley

Ken Heath

Bdr. William (Buttons) Hunter

Irvine Brothers 23rd Battery

Bdr. J. C. Irvine 23rd Battery

Bdr. Thomas Henderson Kane

Tommy and Albert Kinnon 21st and 23rd Bty.

 Gnr. Jim Lennon's War Records - Photos

Sgt. Joseph Harold Lynn (aka Harry-Joe)

Matchett Brothers 23rd Battery

L/Bdr. Harry Joseph Mawhinney 22nd Battery

Gunner Thomas Mercer 21st Battery

 Jimmy McKittrick

Bdr. Thomas McLaughlin

Colonel Harry Porter

Sgt. Billy Wilson 23rd Battery

Sidney Ernest Wright - Diary & Photographs


N-O-K- Dec'd Personnel 21/22/23 Hy.A.A.

Posted/Repatriated from 23 Hy.A.A.

List of Additional Soldiers

List of names, no addresses 23rd Bty.

Memorial Service Book (list of names) B Troop

22nd Bty. Memorial Brochure  names, addresses

23rd Bty. Memorial Brochure  names, addresses

RHQ/REME Memorial Brochure, addresses

Nominal Roll 21st Bty. all ranks

Nominal Roll 22nd Bty. all ranks

Nominal Roll 23rd Bty. all ranks

8th Belfast HAA Nominal Roll 21st Battery

8th Belfast HAA Nominal Roll 22nd Battery

8th Belfast HAA Nominal Roll 23rd Battery

Alterations & Additions to Nom. Rolls 23rd

RHQ / REME Nominal Rolls







Newspaper Clippings

Assorted Clippings 1

Assorted Clippings 2


SEAC March 1944



Sport & Small Groups

8th Belfast Band

Individuals & Friends

Large Group Pictures

Donated Photos

8th Belfast Band items

Documents  *  Items


Old Comrades Section

Burma Star Luncheon 2009

St. Annes and Lansdowne Court Hotel Laying-up of Burma Star Standard 3rd October 2010



Obituaries  *  Memorials  Changi Prison Chapel

8th Belfast HAA History
by Colonel Murray Barnes, OBE , TD.

A short History of The 8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery (Supplementary Reserve)
by Harry Porter


Dean Houston McKelvey's Sermon
3rd October 2010

Extract from Coralie Kinahan's book
'Behind Every Great Man'
"Robin's War"


Video Page

Harry Porters film of the Twelve Mile Snipers
(in 3 parts)

Burma Star Luncheon

The Last Parade

and more....


other WW2 stories

Cpl. William F. Davison

Belfast Telegraph Tuesday June, 6, 1944 Invasion


  Lt. William George Hales

1939                                                       1945                                                       1994

William George Hales (1914 -1997).....
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, but declined."

William (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 here


"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 success.


(Front page of the "Statesman" of 6th February 1945)

Click to enlarge
Conversion Table                  Wear Data                    Calculations or Corrections          Line of Bomb Release
                                      for Abnormal Conditions

Concert Programme
On Board "Brittanic" (Trooping). May 1942 en route for Burma (4500 on board)

   1.     The Sherwood Foresters Dance Band
                    Directed by Cpl. Hilton
   2.     Tenor Songs
                    Pte. Silverstein
   3.     Yorkshire Comedian
                    Cpl. Wade
   4.     "The Disorderly Room" (written by me - Hales

5.     "Impersonating the Stars"
                    Col. Stockbridge
   6.     "Always Joking"
                    Sgt. Stocks
   7.     "The Doctor's Story"
                    Pte. Corbett
   8.     Sing with the Band


   9.     "Just a Little Crazy"
                    Wilson and Green
 10.     The Dagger scene from Macbeth
                    Pte. Randolph
 11.     "Spit and Polish"
                    The Incompatible Pair
 12.     "Two Hands and a Piano"
                    Pte. Knowles
 13.     "The Sick Parade"  (written by me - Hales)

14.     "The White Coon"
                    Pte. Butterworth
 15.     "Nuff Said"
                    Sgt. Stocks and Cpl. Wade
 16.      Finale
                    Band and Full Company


In charge of entertainment 2/Lt. W. G. Hales, R.A.

List of approximate weights of articles of personal baggage

     Camp Bed
  * Valise
     Boots, pairs
     Ground Sheet
     Service Dress
     Shoe pairs
     Water bucket & Stand
     Battle Dress
     Canvas Bath
     Belt, Sam Browne
     Shaving Kit case
     Great Coat

  * Plus Straps


     20  lbs.


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
CLICK to enlarge
    Instructions to Officers acting in aid of the civil power             Prevention of Malaria on Field Service
for dispersal of unlawful assemblies                                                                 
CLICK to enlarge
Calculation of Corrections for Abnormal Conditions
      Allowance for abnormal conditions                           Appendix "A" to be carried by all drivers of W.D. Vehicles
River steamer, sister of the one I travelled on, passing us
Native craft disembarking (?) passengers

can't make out writing

Our four pea-shooters, planes, Jap, for the extermination of (They talk that way in the British Army)
The trees are all bamboos & coconut palms
Taken outside my tent. India Sept. 1942

Some of my lads in a Zulu? village S. Africa

Believe it or not     by     Ripley
"Officers at Work"
n.b. 1. Jackets off
2. Sleeves rolled up
Please preserve for display by museums

Oct. 1942


The Signpost of Hope

(its says London 6372 miles)

Kashmir's Gate
This is the gate we entered by
Women carrying loads on their heads, even little girls (India)
Bills Field Message Book with original pencil

CLICK to enlarge images


     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 range.

     With the Japanese airmen almost driven from Burma's skies, these Belfast gunners fire mostly at enemy ground targets.

     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 direct hit.
     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, R.A.
Cabin A.38

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"

Yours Humphrey Sta??a??

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, Brynawel Hotel.
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 5.8.42                   Thomas and myself, S. Africa (W. G. Hales Thomas Ball)


Officer i/c
Royal Regiment of Artillery Museum,
Royal Military Academy,
Woolwich. SE 18.

Sir,  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 4 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. Lewendon (Retd.)
Royal Artillery Institution,
Old Royal Military Academy,
Woolwich, London, SE18 4JJ

16th June 1981

Dear Captain Hales,

     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.

Yours sincerely, R. Lewendon

Assistant 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 signature)

Membership Card
The Royal Artillery Association

     The 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 through Train.

     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, Arrive Towyn.

     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 is:-

Nr. TOWYN                                                        
NORTH WALES                                                 




List of
Stores, Plant, Tools, Instruments, etc.

Issued to Requisitioned by O C P Bty. 463

From Pool Store Date 4.8.52

Swedish Mirror 1
Gantry? 1