John died on 15 January 2003 aged almost 75.

Cpl JL Lovatt
Cpl JL Lovatt

He enlisted at Hanley on 11 August 1949, having previously served two years in the TA (RA). He did his training with 8 RTR at Catterick and joined The 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars at Leicester East Airfield soon afterwards. He married Sheila on 17 September 1950. They had three children, Janet, Terence and Kathleen.

He joined ‘C’ Squadron when it was reformed at Leicester East Airfield, moved with them to Tidworth for conversion to the Centurion tank, and sailed with the Regiment from Southampton for Korea on 11 October 1950 arriving at Pusan on 14 November 1950, to be greeted by an American negro band.

Christmas 1950 was spent at Yungdungpo. ‘C’ Squadron was deployed with Ulster Rifles, the Northumberland Fusiliers and 1 Troop with the Gloucesters. An attack was expected and the squadron was stood to all night. The temperature was 20 degrees below freezing, it got worse later, 48 degrees below freezing at times. The squadron was living in its bivouacs at this time.

He took part in the attack on Hill 327 in mid-February 1951. His major engagement was the Battle of the Imjin (22 April to 25 April 1951). He was promoted to lance corporal in May 1953. He remained with ‘C’ Squadron until sailing from Pusan with the rest in the MV Georgic on 13 December 1951 arriving in Liverpool on 15 January 1952.

After leave, he moved with the Regiment to BAOR (Luneburg) on 21 March 1952. He was promoted to corporal in January 1953.

He took his release on 10 August 1954, going on to do seven years on the Reserve. John was an extremely competent tank gunner and commander and had all the attributes of a professional soldier. He was a loyal and good friend and a well-liked character in the squadron.

After release, he became a miner. John left the mines due to dust affecting his breathing. He worked in a bakery for quite a while and then for Michelin Tyre Company until being made redundant in 1983.

He was a loyal Regimental Association member, was always good company, and attended the early years Regimental Dinners. Latterly he attended York and Leicester Troop Dinners, with his chum from the Leicester East and Korea days, Arthur Butterworth, where they both served on 2 Troop Leaders Tank
from Pusan until after the Imjin.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Korea 1950-51