An army veteran is finally set to visit the Burmese war grave of his friend who was killed by the same bullet that injured him 67 years ago.
Aged just 18, Jack Hough was drafted into The Second Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment on June 17, 1943, before he was later hit by Japanese gunfire in a battle in Burma.
The 87-year-old, who lives in Garforth, was hospitalised for three months after the bullet pierced his right buttock but he later found out that the same bullet had gone on to kill his comrade Willis Wray.
After decades without knowing where Willis was buried and having never met any family of the soldier from Pontefract, Jack is now ready to visit his fallen friend.
The grandfather of four told the YEP: “I’ll be paying my final respects to him as he served with me – it will be emotional, especially as it could have been me as well, definitely.”
Lance Corporal Jack Hough had been deployed to the Indo-Burmese jungle to fight the Japanese in the midst of the Second World War, before his regiment joined the battles of Imphal and Kohima, in Burma.
Remembering the incident, when he was defending a roadblock, Jack said: “The Japanese had been battling around Garrison Hill at Kohima and were now coming down the road towards us.
“My friend Willis Wray was shot dead, he was right next to me, and I got hit at the same time.
“I found out later that the same bullet that killed him went into me. I was very lucky.”
By the time Jack rejoined his comrades, the allies had reoccupied most of Burma and the Japanese army had suffered 85,000 casualties.
Soon after he learned about the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the ensuing Japanese surrender, which was 67 years ago on August 15.
He said: “At the time we all said three cheers that the war was finally over and our duty had been completed – if those bombs hadn’t been dropped we would never have seen the end of war.”
After leaving the army in 1946, Jack went to work for his father and later sold the family dairy business, before getting married and having children.
He went back to visit India four years ago to visit some of the old battlefields he remembers so vividly but couldn’t find the grave of his fallen friend.
Since then Jack has found out that Willis is buried in the Taukkyan War Cemetery, in Burma.
Jack is planning to finally visit with his daughter Janet and the help of a grant from the BIG Lottery Fund’s Heroes Return programme, which pays for veterans to make commemorative trips, later this year.
Visit: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/heroesreturn for further information.