John Heesom was born on the 13th of May 1928 in Warrington, Lancashire, one of four children.

Sgt J Heesom
Sgt J Heesom

On leaving school he worked for a while as a Messenger Boy until he enlisted into the Army as a Band Boy on the 10th February 1944 aged fifteen and a half years and joined 57th Training Regiment at Catterick, Yorkshire.

On reaching the age of 17 and a half he was posted to the Ranks in the rank of Trooper and six months later aged 18 he was appointed Bandsman and posted to The 4th Queen’s Own Hussars Band at Colchester for Adult Service.

The 4th Hussars sailed for Malaya on the Troopship HMT ‘Dilwara’ on the 20th of August 1948 at the commencement of a three-year tour in the Far East. The Regiment returned to the UK and Tidworth in December 1951. John left the Band in July 1952 and became a Trooper in the Regiment.

He was appointed L/Cpl in December the same year and Cpl in July 1953. He married Elizabeth Napier in August 1953 and they had two daughters, Susan and Carol.

The Regiment was posted to BAOR Germany in September 1953 and John served with them until he was discharged to the Reserve in May 1958 and returned to his roots in Warrington where he joined the Fire Brigade.

He re-enlisted in April 1960 and rejoined the Regiment (now The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars as a result of the amalgamation of The 4th Hussars and The 8th Hussars in 1958) in the rank of Corporal, in Hohne, BAOR.

Promoted to the rank of Sergeant in December 1960 John served with the Regiment during their subsequent tours in Aden, Singapore, Malaya, Brunei and Borneo until May 1963 when he was posted to Northern Ireland as a Special Recruiter until September 1965 when he returned to duty with the regiment at Wolfenbuttel.

His last posting away from the Regiment (probably the best) was a six month emergency tour with the UN Peacekeeping Force from May 1967 to November 1967.

John was discharged to redundancy in the rank of Sergeant on the 22nd May 1969 having served for eighteen years.

He was awarded the 1939/45 Defence Medal, 1939/45 Victory Medal, GSM/Clasp Malaya, GSM Clasp/Brunei, GSM clasp Borneo and the UN Peace Keeping Medal Cyprus.

During his service he managed to put a few courses under his belt such as Wireless Instructor, Drill Course, Army Recruiting and NBC.

On his second discharge John, yet again, returned to his old haunt of Warrington. Unfortunately his marriage did not last and John and Elizabeth separated and eventually divorced.

He was initially employed as a Salesman for the Redifusion TV Company, followed by employment in Security and finally as Health and Safety Officer.

In 1979 John met Barbara and they married in 1980. He interests were cricket, football, darts and he liked a bet on the horses. He was a member of the British Legion and played the bugle at funerals.

He suffered from continuous heart problems and during 1982 he had to cease working and was virtually disabled. Barbara nursed and tended him for twenty eight years until his death on the 7th July 2010 aged 83.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. A short history of The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars
  3. Malaya 1948-51
  4. Aden and The Persian Gulf 1961
  5. Malaya and Borneo 1962-64